While many older adults want to stay in their homes for as long as possible, most houses are not built to safely accommodate their changing health needs. According to the National Council on Aging, one-fourth of American seniors fall each year, and falls are the leading cause of fatal injury among older adults. Even in a familiar environment, older adults are at risk for dangerous falls every day. If you have an older loved one living alone, be aware of these common home hazards.
When assessing the safety of your home, start with hallways and stairways, which can pose the risk of dangerous falls and other safety hazards. Are these areas well lit? Are there handrails on both sides of the stairway? Loose carpeting or uneven flooring in these areas can be especially hazardous, with serious falls leading to bruises, broken bones, and other major injuries.
Bathrooms are notorious spaces for falls and mishaps due to their slippery surfaces. Is it easy to get in and out of the tub or shower? Are there grab bars or handrails to provide extra stability? If not, it may be time to look for living options in a retirement community, where all bathrooms are designed to be easily accessible for older adults to prevent dangerous accidents.
It’s also important to keep track of outside environment of an older adult’s home for unforeseen safety hazards. For example, is your loved one’s home located in a safe community? Are there neighbors nearby to help in the event of an emergency? Outdoor walkways can have uneven pavement and other unexpected fall hazards. During winter months, older adults can also experience difficulty keeping up with chores like shoveling snow or de-icing sidewalks, which may lead to further safety concerns.
Finally, evaluate the safety of your loved one’s kitchen area. Are the appliances easy to reach and operate? Do they have access to fresh food on a regular basis? Many times, older adults experience malnutrition because they are no longer able or willing to prepare meals for themselves. If you’re concerned about your loved one’s access to healthy food, consider the benefits of moving to a retirement community, where residents can enjoy freshly prepared meals each day. You’ll have better peace of mind knowing that your loved one has access to nutritious food and quality care by an attentive staff.
Assessing your loved one’s longtime home for these hazards may seem like an overwhelming task, but it’s an important step in determining if it’s time to move to a safer environment. Luckily, today’s senior living communities offer flexible options for older adults over the age of 62 to help them enjoy a safe and relaxing retirement for years to come.