Ensure Senior Accident Prevention Is In Your Loved One’s Home
Harmony Caregiving has created this list of senior accident prevention tips to ensure you and your family are safe. Our professional caregiving team uses these Senior Accident Prevention tips when services our clients. We all know that seniors can be more vulnerable when it comes to safety, especially in the case of accidental fires. That’s why we need to give them a bit of extra love and care. Fire hazards can occur when appliances such as the stove, oven or iron are left on and neglected. As well, accidents can occur if a senior mistakenly ingests a non-edible substance or takes their medication incorrectly.
To prevent elderly accidents at home please read the following fire accident prevention tips:
- Use appliances that have an automatic shut off, use stove guards and unplug electrical appliances when not in use
- Store hazardous materials away from your loved one and have the home cleaned using non-toxic cleaners
- Removing or putting candles away in a safe inaccessible place will be of benefit if your loved one has memory problems or problems with neglect
- In case of accidental fire
- it’s important to have easy access to fire extinguishers in all the main rooms of the home. Family members should all be trained in how to use them. It may also be a good idea to plan regular mock fire drills so that all family members know how to get out of the house in case of emergency
Please note that with persons with dementia, their capacity to learn and remember information such as the above will likely be impaired or non-existent. Therefore do not expect these individuals to learn this information and recall it. Instead focus on training other family members on how to assist your loved one in case of a fire.
Harmony Caregiving’s staff can further assist you and your senior loved one by:
- Walking through your loved ones home and providing a thorough safety check
- Offer suggestions on how to get and implement safeguards throughout the house
- Harmony can assist your loved one while they move or travel from place to place to keep them active and safe from falls
- Harmony’s caregivers can prepare, cook and store healthy meals to prevent possible fire hazards.
- For those seniors who wish to remain at home but still require more monitoring in regards to their safety, Harmony can provide Caregivers that can assist your loved one with all their personal care needs, home care, and gardening needs.
Hey, You Missed a Spot: Home Cleaning Solutions for Seniors
You may notice that your loved one’s home is not being cleaned or kept up to previous standards. As well it’s important to consider that dangerous fumes can affect a senior when improperly using cleaning solutions that contain toxins.
The following are some of the signs that your loved one may be having difficulty with handling the home
- House is messy/cluttered with items scattered about haphazardly.
- House and bathroom not cleaned to previous standards as your senior loved one can’t bend to clean around the toilet and get to other tight constricted areas in the bathroom.
- Your loved one may have many unwashed dishes in the sink and/or not store left over foods properly. You may notice that food has gone bad.
- Your senior loved one may not throw away garbage regularly resulting in stale smells and odors in the house.
- Your loved one may neglect to do their laundry.
Elderly persons may not be able to maintain their homes to previously held standards. This can be due to increased fatigue and physical discomfort. As well seniors may have less of an appetite and do not frequent the kitchen very often. Some seniors may have decreased mental attention and can’t concentrate on completing tasks. Medications can also play a role in reducing a senior’s alertness, energy, or ability to take part in household tasks. Additionally, they may have problems with their vision and can’t see clearly, or they may have problems with their memory and do not realize they have not cleaned their home. As well, seniors may not socialize with other people as often and thus may not feel the need to maintain the house.
Look at the issues that are preventing your loved one from maintaining a clean house house and determine the possible reasons why. Then try to address as many as you are able. You may need to assist them with weekly clean-ups and with organization. Try putting regularly used items in easily accessible bins/boxes to make cleanup and sorting items easier. Throw the garbage away on a weekly basis to prevent clutter and odors. It may be helpful to do a load of essential laundry for them once a week if they are no longer able. It is also suggested that you clean the home using non-toxic cleaners to alleviate health conditions or sensitivities. If this ever becomes too overwhelming or time consuming for you and/or your family members then consider hiring outside support to clean the house once every 1 to 2 weeks. At Harmony we offer such cleaning services as well as grocery shopping and healthy meal preparation.
I’ll Fix it Later: Delaying Home Repair and Maintenance
Home maintenance /repair can be a costly and labour intensive process that can be out of reach for many seniors as they age. Many seniors live out their retirement on a fixed income. Over time the home can show wear and tear both inside and out. Family caregivers may notice that the outside garden needs more tending, or the driveway may have cracks. The house may not have been painted in years, or the roof may need replacement. Inside the house areas that need regular maintenance include the furnace/ AC (both maintenance and cleaning), plumbing system, appliances, and door window repair/replacements. If these areas are not maintained it can lead to inconvenience, discomfort or worse yet negative health conditions for the occupants.
Much of the work involved in maintaining a house is time-consuming and involves physical strain. Tasks such as yard work, mowing the lawn, collecting leaves and snow shoveling can become a burden that leaves seniors feeling fatigued or worse yet cause injury. Many seniors may not be able to afford a professional plumber, electrician or another contractor if experiencing problems with their water or electricity.
Homes that are not well maintained can lead to some safety issues as well. Floors or floor boards that are uneven, unstable or have cracks can cause seniors to fall and incur injury. Plumbing problems can lead to clogged pipes, problems with water pressure, inadvertent flooding or sewage backup and electrical problems can prove to be a fire hazard.
Family members can assist their loved ones by taking on some of a more strenuous tasks involved with home maintenance such as the following:
- Assist with mowing the lawn, gardening, snow shoveling and home repairs. It may also be beneficial to perform a monthly walkthrough of the house to check on areas that need work or improvement
- As well it may be necessary to arrange for services such as furnace or AC (Air Conditioning) maintenance and cleaning, driveway/roof repair and even regular checks on plumbing and electricity
- Have the internal water temperature reset so that scalding water does not come out of the faucet. This can prevent burns and other mishaps
Some these tasks are very physically taxing and time-consuming for a family caregiver to take over. If time and or ability is limited, it may be worthwhile to employ companies specializing in home repair/management. Harmony Caregiving can walk through your loved ones home, conduct a safety check of the premises and alert you about any concerns. As well, Harmony has a gardener on staff that can assist your loved one with planning and tend to their gardening needs.
Keeping your loved one safe and comfortable at home for as long as possible is a very viable option with many of the supports that you and outside organizations, like Harmony Caregiving, can provide. In the long term, it is also a more affordable option as nursing facilities can be very costly and the distance to visit them very inconvenient for family members and others. Home care allows seniors and their family caregivers more choice as to what services they want and how they want them to be delivered. Having choices is vital in that it helps seniors feel more in control of their lives and enhances their overall sense of independence.
We hope you find these senior accident prevention tips helpful. For more information about safety concerns affecting seniors with Dementia, please stay tuned for our next article “Confused by the Apparent Changes in Your Aging Parent.”