From accidental falls to getting lost, safety hazards facing the elderly are many. The risks are higher for seniors who live alone.
Luckily, there are steps you can take to improve personal safety and reduce the risk of accidents and injuries.
These tips are for senior citizens and family members or caregivers of senior citizens. Read on to learn more about personal safety tips for the elderly.
Keep Emergency Numbers Close
Make sure you have easy and quick access to emergency numbers. The easiest way to do this is to program them into your phone’s speed dial.
The most important emergency numbers are:
- 999 or 112 for medical emergencies and crimes in progress.
- 111 for minor injuries and illnesses.
- The contact number of a family member.
- The contact number of your primary care giver.
Have a Personal Alarm
A personal alarm or alert system notifies a caregiver that you need assistance.
Basic personal alarms will only alert the people around you. It’ll emit a loud sound when you press the emergency button.
Wireless personal alarms are designed to alert a caregiver on their phone wherever they are. With some, you don’t even need to press a button. Sensors on the device detect when you’ve fallen or been inactive for too long and automatically trigger an alert.
Some personal alarms can also monitor your temperature, heartbeat and other health symptoms.
If you have a family member with Alzheimer’s, a personal alarm can be very helpful in case they get lost. Make sure you get an alarm with built-in GPS to make it easy to locate them.
Use Walking Aids
It is important to understand your limitations. You may still be able to walk independently but you risk a serious injury if your balance and strength are not as good as they were.
It’s also dangerous to walk far on your own if you get tired easily.
Know when it’s time to get a walking aid. You can start with a simple cane for balance or rollators if you need more help with mobility.
If your family member’s health has severely deteriorated, it may be safer if they don’t walk at all, even with a rollator. Instead, get them a wheelchair or mobility scooter.
Use Support Aids
There are many places around the house you can fall and get injured. The riskiest place is the bathroom when you are showering or using the toilet.
To make it easier to go about your hygiene routines without injuring yourself, consider getting a shower chair. For the toilet, add a raised toilet seat to make it less strenous to sit and stand from the toilet.
Hand rails near the toilet and shower can also help with support.
You may also need a handrail near the bed to safely get in and out of bed.
If you are a family member or caregiver of an elderly person, go round the house looking for places where a support aid may be needed.
Examples include furniture risers to raise the height of a chair or bed, a ramp over a threshold to make sure they don’t trip, half-steps to reduce the height of the stairs and so on.
Check Your Home Security
Personal safety is not just about falling and injuries. You also need to make sure they are safe from burglars and other criminals.
This means beefing up home security to keep out and deter criminals.
You can get a home security kit (with 24/7 monitoring) or buy individual security devices and install them yourself.
Whichever option you choose, here are the most important security components to have.
- Security cameras. Install them at the front and back as well as inside the living room.
- Alarm system with motion and contact sensors placed strategically around the home.
- Security lights outside the house. To save energy, opt for motion-activated security lights.
- Video doorbell. It’ll show who’s at the door when the bell is rang. Very helpful for seniors who live alone.
In addition to a home security system, make sure the doors and windows are secure. Install locks on windows and add a deadlock on the back and front door.
Here are some tips to prevent a fire and escape from one if it occurs.
- Install smoke detectors in the living room, bedrooms and in the hallway outside the bedroom. Remember to frequently check the batteries on the smoke detectors. For seniors who live alone, get one of those smart smoke detectors that will alert you on your smartphone wherever you are if the alarm goes off.
- Install a stove auto-shutoff device. It’ll automatically switch off the stove if it is left unattended for an extended period.
- Get rid of all candles from the house. A candle is a big fire risk. They can forget to blow it off or accidentally knock it off the table.
- Have a fire escape plan in place and make sure your loved one knows how to follow it. Practice it with them at least twice a year.
- Make sure a fire extinguisher is within easy reach in the kitchen. For storied homes, get a fire escape ladder and put it near the window in the bedroom (make sure they know how to use it).
Lighting is often ignored but can make a huge difference in personal safety. Poor lighting increases the risk of falls and injuries.
Replace any burnt out bulbs and install motion-detecting lights in the hallways, the bathroom and outside.
Finally, it’s important that you frequently check in on your loved one to make sure they are okay. It also helps blunt some of the loneliness that’s common in seniors who live alone.
If you cannot manage to visit them often, make sure they are in good rapport with neighbours. Neighbours can keep an eye on them when you are not around.
When you can’t visit, make frequent calls. Video calls are even better. You can see how they are doing rather than just hearing their voice.
Screened smart speakers like Google Home and Amazon Echo Show have made it easy to video-call loved ones.