Independent Lifestyle Hacks: Home Safety Tips for Seniors

For most people, a home is a warm place associated with lots of memories, being independent, and feeling secure. It’s only natural for those feelings to make remaining in their homes an important priority for many seniors as the years advance. Caregiving assistance and electronic devices have made it possible for more seniors than ever before to remain in their homes rather than enter an assisted living arrangement. However, living alone isn’t without risks. Taking advantage of these tips can make it much safer for the elderly.


Increase Home Security

There are many ways to increase a home's security. A good place to start is making sure the entire house remains locked when a senior isn’t at home. This includes both windows and doors to help prevent break-ins. It’s also a good idea to arrange for friends, family members, neighbors, or other trusted adults to pick any packages or mail that arrives. Taking steps to make a home look occupied discourages potential thieves.

This is also the time to consider adding some features to a home. Creating a peephole is a simple way to allow a resident to see who’s on the other side of a door. There are plenty of home tech solutions for those who want a better view of what's happening in their home, but a few simple options can do the trick just as well.

Lights that are motion activated discourage intruders. They also alert observant neighbors or those passing by that something might be amiss. The best spots to place them are over doors and above prominent windows. If a senior’s needs warrant it, an additional alternative is installing a home security system. This allows the resident or another designated adult to visually monitor the property for signs of any unusual activity.


Maintain Important Contacts

A senior living alone should always have an up-to-date list of emergency and important contacts. Keeping it by the phone makes it easy for family members or emergency responders to get the information they need. It should include contact information for doctors, family members, friends, clergy if applicable, and a veterinarian if there are pets in the home.

Seniors should designate one or more individuals to care for any household pets if there is an emergency. In addition, an elderly person living alone needs someone with whom he and she can check in periodically. This is typically a friend or a family member but could also be an organization that provides this type of service. Checking in on a regular basis could provide whoever makes up the support system with early information that something might be wrong. 

In addition, some seniors find it helpful to subscribe to an alert system allows them to merely press a button to summon help in the event of an accident or a fall.


Keep the Home in Good Shape

Maintaining a home in good repair can be as simple as spotting potential hazards such as slippery stairs, rugs that have not been tacked down, and exposed electrical cords and then remedying the situation. Often a senior home needs minor modifications. 

Seniors face particularly high risks in the bathroom due to water and the possibility of a slippery floor. Installing bars and handholds around the commode and the shower reduces the chance of a mishap. 

Adding a non-slip bath mat makes a tub safer. To avoid household water temperature problems, it’s a good idea to mark each faucet as HOT or COLD and to adjust the water heater to 120Ëš F or lower.


Have Safety Essentials Always Available

Every senior home should remain well stocked with safety essentials such as a fire extinguisher and a smoke detector on each floor. A disaster preparedness kit is important for events such as natural disasters, abnormally low temperatures, and power outages.  It can make life much more endurable for a senior until help is available and should include:

  • Blankets
  • Bottles of water
  • Dried food
  • Flashlight
  • First-aid supplies
  • Candles
  • Matches
  • Food, water, and carriers for any pets

Seniors should always have on hand a plentiful supply of medication for themselves as well as for any pets.


Practice These Safety Steps

Some very basic steps are particularly helpful to seniors living alone. To accommodate maturing vision, the lights should be on whenever work areas such as the kitchen are in use. Also important is using bright hues to indicate appliance ON and OFF positions. There should be plenty of light and switches at the top and at the bottom of any stairs. 

Regularly decluttering floors removes potential hazards. So does storing relatively heavy items at waist level and keeping sharp objects such as knives in a rack. Leaving a light on in the bathroom during the night can prevent injuries. 

All medications need clear labels and should be discarded at appropriate intervals. It’s a good idea to make sure a senior’s physician considers any combination or prescription and over-the-counter drugs safe before mixing them.

Given the increased risk of slipping and falling, it’s important for seniors living alone to remain as healthy as possible. This means drinking a sufficient amount of water, following a healthy diet, and getting physical activity approved by a physician. It also means avoiding undue risks such as standing on chairs or ladders and steering clear of slippery floor wax. Wearing shoes with low heels and a proper fit and using a walking device that has been measured correctly are also important.

In prior generations, it was fairly common for the elderly to move out of their homes and live with one of their children. That occurs far less often today. In recent decades, providing care that allows seniors to remain independent and stay in their homes for as long as possible has become more and more popular. Remaining in place could be possible once families recognize the potential hazards for a senior living alone. Following these tips to overcome them can lead to a safe and successful outcome for the special seniors in your life.