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November 15, 2017
by Brendan Sullivan, PT, MSPT, OCS

We are all faced with the prospect of either caring for our aging parents or being the aging adult. Older adults often want to maintain their independence but it can be a struggle to balance safety with the desire to be independent. One must recognize that risks for injury in the home are real and can have serious consequences. By reviewing the following checklist and making any necessary changes, you can help to ensure safety in the home.

General Precautions:

  • Notify local police if a member of your family is memory impaired or has dementia
  • Keep flashlights throughout your home and readily available. Check batteries frequently.
  • Consider how you would call for help if you (or an aged family member) falls and is alone (monitoring system, cell phone, etc.).
  • Develop an exit plan to utilize in case of an emergency. Include a place to meet if you and your family get separated.

For General Safety:

  • Check electrical cords for frays and cracks regularly.
  • Use properly rated extension cords.
  • Consider cameras oriented at doors and throughout the house (that can be monitored through smartphones) to view visitors prior to opening the door and to check up on family members alone at home.
  • Do not wear loose fitting clothing when working around any flame source.
  • Exercise caution with portable space heaters.

Falls Prevention:

  • Ensure adequate lighting throughout the house.
  • Reduce clutter to minimize risks for trips and falls.
  • Remove furniture that is hazardous.
  • Ensure cords are out of the way and do not pose a tripping hazard.
  • Make sure you can turn the light on in a room without having to walk across the dark room.
  • Use care on non-carpeted floors; remove all non-skid resistant rugs/runners.

In the Bathroom:

  • Use care on non-carpeted floors; remove all non-skid resistant rugs/runners.
  • Make sure railings are available in bathrooms and at stairs/steps.
  • Avoid the risk of water burns by ensuring the water temperature is less than 120 degrees.

Telephones:

  • Post emergency numbers and other necessary contact information.
  • Use a phone with large number pads.
  • Program speed-dial keys with important numbers.

Resources:

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