& Suzanne Greive
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Safety for the Elderly
As we age our
senses are not as sharp and the loss of the sense
of vision, smell, hearing and touch can result in
injury. With the frequent bone loss of older
individuals, the risks from falling are
magnified. A simple fall can result in a serious
incapacitation injury that can lead to loss of
independence. These tips while intended for
elderly safety apply to all people, especially
children and pets.
Put emergency contact information, doctors, hospitals, pharmacy, etc next
to the phone. Make sure the address is listed
along with family contact information. Remember
that most cordless phones will not work during a
power outage, so always have at least one non
powered corded phone.
Check doors and locks for easy operation and security. All doors should
have secure deadbolts that do not require a key
from the inside. We recommend 180 degree
peepholes at the appropriate height and good
porch lighting. You might consider alarm systems
for peace of mind.
Test all smoke alarms, and if they have them, change the batteries on a
regular cycle like daylight savings time change.
If the residence has any combustion appliances
(furnace, hot water, fireplace, stove, ect.) or
and attached garage we also recommend
carbon monoxide detectors. We recommend that you locate any safety
equipment your building may have, like fire
extinguishers, fire escapes and central alarms.
Consider installing extinguishers inside the home
and near any barbeques and garages. Read
Safety Tips from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Check the lighting assuring that it is adequate to clearly see cooking and
working areas. Check location of lighting
switches, they should be easily assessible near
the doorways. Hot water can severely scald, so
assure the water temperature is set no
higher then 120 degrees. Single conrtol faucets are less likely to cause
burns. The flooring should be easily cleaned, not
slippery, and any rugs or pads should have non
skid backing to help prevent falls. Controls for
the range and oven should be in front or beside,
not in back where you would have to reach over a
burner. All kitchens should have GFCI
protected outlets within 6 feet of water. These should be tested regularly
to assure they are working. A circuit properly
protected by a GFCI
can prevent 2/3 of all electrocutions.
Halls and Rooms
Inspect all stairs and halls for trip hazards at carpet/flooring edges,
thresholds, cords, etc. Look around for sharp
edges on furniture, trim, shelving and heaters
that could be hazardous in case of a fall. Check
for good lighting and switch locations.
Since so many injuries occur on stairs, we have dedicated
a web page to stair safety. You will find more complete safety info there.
Some of the tips include..
1) Continuous handrails:
Consider installing secure hand raills on both
sides of steps. They should be at the correct
height, easy to grasp and solid construction.
2) Vertical balustrades:
These are to assure there is no opening greater
3) Even Treads, to prevent trips
4) Good Lighting, with light switches at top and
bottom of stairs.
5) Closed risers, these are much less likely to
cause a trip.
6) Clear approaches