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Home Safety Tips As You Visit Elders This Season

Posted Dec 24 2012 9:00am
As you visit loved ones this holiday season and as you make your resolution and to-do list for 2013, consider this guest blog from Rescue Alert of California.

The growing popularity of medical alert systems goes hand-in-hand with the increasing numbers of seniors who receive in-home care. However, living in your own home independently—despite the regular appointed visits of a professional caregiver and a monthly subscription to a personal emergency alert—would not absolutely guarantee your safety. It is important, therefore, to stay proactive about the whole safety issue by checking your home and identifying which parts or areas pose some kind of threat.
1. Have a fire extinguisher and a smoke detector on every floor of your home. If you live alone, it is significantly helpful to be able to detect smoke or fire as early as possible—without a proper smoke detector, you might only notice a fire when it has become already uncontrollable. The fire extinguisher, of course, allows you to control a fire at its nascent stage, or at least gives you an escape route during a fire in progress.
2. Install a carbon monoxide detector. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas, and it’s quite deadly in elevated concentrations. When inhaled, this gas can cause people to get sleepy, which seniors can mistake to be normal. This gas kills, and having a detector allows you to sense its presence early.
3. Always wear shoes that properly fit and are comfortable to wear, especially those with low heels. Wearing properly fitting shoes means you will be able to move around in your home without the risk of stumbling or falling, not to mention the comfort.
4. Use only a walking aid that is specifically measured for your height. A walking aid that is too high or too low for you is next to useless—it can even cause undue stress on your back and other related joints and muscles and might cause some damage. There are also special types of walking aids that doubly functions as some sort of “grabber,” which can be handy for those hard-to-reach areas, such as the top-most kitchen shelves.
5. Make sure that your home has good lighting. Seniors with vision problems are at a high risk for accidental falls. Good lighting, especially along hallways, near the staircase or the staircase landing, in the bathroom, or in the garage can reduce this risk. Use at least 100-watt bulbs or their fluorescent equivalent.
6. Remove scatter rugs—they are a hazard. But if you can’t, at least make sure to tack down their edges. Such rugs can easily trip anyone. If you’re living alone, you don’t need them.
7. Staircases should have a non-slip surface, especially the steps. The staircase is perhaps one of the most hazardous parts of a house, especially for seniors with increasing physical limitations. Make sure that every step of the staircase is covered with a non-slip surface—there are many options for this at your local hardware or home furniture store. The staircase landing and the surrounding floor area should also be non-slip.
8. Always leave a light in your bathroom at night. Just in case you need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, a lit bathroom reduces your risk of accidental falls or bumping into furniture.
9. As much as possible, take a bath only when there is someone else with you in the house, such as a family member or your in-home caregiver. Accidental slippage or falls in the bathroom are a major concern among seniors and are a leading cause of death.
10. Explore how medical alert systems can complement your current in-home care setup. A medical alert can provide a protective coverage during those hours when your caregiver is not around. If some medical emergency arises, you can call for help at a simple press of the button. The monthly service fee, which ranges from $15 to $30, already includes 24-hour, seven-days-a-week monitoring. You can even choose related add-ons and accessories depending on your medical situation, such as automatic fall detection, automatic medicine reminders or dispensers.
These home safety tips for seniors are by no means the only useful reminders to make sure that your home is absolutely safe for seniors, but they are definitely among the first ones you should prioritize. Aside from these 10 tips, explore and analyze your home situation and make the necessary modifications. 

Rescue Alert of California™ has been enabling senior citizens to live safe, happy and independent lives through education and quality medical alert devices for over a decade. It is dedicated to being a resource to seniors and caregivers alike, and prides itself on offering information through the Rescue Alert of California™ blog to help in many facets of senior and caregiver lives.
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