There can come a time when a house becomes an unfriendly place. Rugs can cause tripping, prescription medication bottles can get mixed up, stairs become barriers, most of all we want to be able to continue to live independently but without all hazards or safety issues. By making these improvements to your house one can live comfortably and safely.

Areas that one needs to check when assessing a home for safety concerns:

In all areas of your home, check all electrical cords and telephone cords, rugs, runners and mats; telephone areas; smoke detectors; electrical outlets and switches; light bulbs; area heaters; wood burning stoves and your emergency exit plan.

Recommendations to ensure that the above areas of concern are made safe:

All cods must either be tied up and far away from any traffic areas, which in turn prevents anybody from falling or tripping. All telephone cords must be glued to wall or length kept to a minimum, this will minimize any chance of falling or better yet install cordless telephones. All loose mats should either be fastened to the surface upon which they lay on or permanently removed. Loose mats are one of the most dangerous icon in an elderly senior’s household. All electrical outlets and switches must be easily accessible and wired properly and thoroughly checked by a qualified electrician. All slippery surfaces need to be clearly marked or coated with a non-slippery surface coating. An emergency exit plan must be easy to execute and effective. One must also make sure that there are zero obstructions in emergency exit route.


Safety in the bathroom:

All bath rooms must be equipped with safety equipment. This equipment not only aids in the safety and wellbeing of the elderly individual, but also aids in making life a lot easier and convenient for the individual living in that specific residence. Examples of such safety equipment consists of the following:

Metal shower assisting rails

Anti-slip bathroom and shower mats

Racks for clothes to be hung, which minimizes the chance of falling over the clothes

Safety in the bedroom:

All loose rugs need to be removed in all bedrooms to minimize all risks of falling. Bed railings or support stands need to be installed to ensure the elderly person does not fall off the bed and injure themselves. Ensure that there are smoke detectors in all rooms in the house.

Panic buttons need to be installed in case of an emergency or if the elderly individual suffers from an condition.

Heaters: All heaters need to be safely secured and need to be placed far away from any carpet or flammable material to prevent any potential fire including curtains or any form of draping materials.

Safety in the Kitchen:

All sharp cutlery must be clearly visible to ensure so injuries occur. All knives must be clearly visible and stored in own location in kitchen. All Tupperware and cook ware must not be stored where an elderly would struggle to obtain it. Reason for this is should an elderly individual be forced to reach for a pot, back injury is very likely to occur. A non-slip mat must be put on the floor of the cleaning/washing section of the kitchen, this is done to ensure no person slips whilst cleaning any kitchen items/utensils.

All detergents must be safely stored and all flammable products must be stored in one single area preferably in an area that is situated away from the main areas of the house.

Other important factors to take cognisance of are:

Provide education and training in the proper operation, maintenance, storage, and cleaning of in-home medical equipment.  Proper cleaning and maintenance at timely intervals can decrease the incidence of infections caused by contaminated equipment, and ensure optimal performance of the equipment.

Provide instruction in patient safety such as preventing falls in patients at risk, the correct lifting and transferring techniques for non-ambulatory patients, and proper administration and storage of medications.

Provide the patient/family/caregiver with a list of phone numbers to call in emergency situations.  Also provide them with the names and phone numbers of resources and support groups in the community that provide training and education in safety issues, and in the disease process.  The better they understand their specific illness, the better they can deal with it, safely and effectively.

The home must be clean and sanitary.  Medical equipment must be cleaned and disinfected on a regular schedule.  Discuss ways of improving home sanitation, and inexpensive disinfectants such as bleach and water solution of 1:10, and vinegar and water solution of 1:3.  Discuss the proper solutions to use on each type of medical equipment.  Proper cleaning and disinfecting of medical equipment should be done on a regular schedule with methods suggested by the manufacturer of the product, or the home care companies’ policies. Instruct the patient/family that proper cleaning and disinfecting of equipment on a regular schedule will keep the equipment performance optimal, and reduce the incidence of infection from contaminated medical equipment.

List of common in-expensive items needed to ensure safety in an elderly’s home:

  • Moving furniture around to gain easy access to electrical outlets.
  • Purchasing a room humidifier.
  • Smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.
  • Surge protectors.
  • A walker.
  • Purchasing a bedside commode.
  • Scatter rugs.
  • Clearing the home of excess clutter, especially in the main patient care area

List of expensive items needed to ensure safety in an elderly’s home:

  • A hospital bed.
  • A wheelchair.
  • Widening all doorways in the home.
  • Adding access ramps to the home.
  • Upgrading the electrical service in the home.
  • Adding a bathroom to the home.
  • Remodelling an existing bathroom in the home.
  • Replacing high pile carpet with low pile carpet, or hardwood floors.

Regular checks of all the above should be done on a regular basis once per week to ensure the safety features and parameters that have been put in place are fulfilling there duties


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