A Check For Household Hazards that Affect Seniors
There’s good reason the axiom “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” stuck. Not only is it timeless, but you’d be hard pressed to find someone who’s not suffered the ill effects of poor planning. Nothing helps with planning/prevention better than a checklist. A home safety checklist, particularly, may be the ounce of prevention that will keep you or a senior loved one from needing that proverbial cure.
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists falls by those 65 and older the leading cause of injury-related death, there are plenty of steps around the house that can minimize the risk, from taping down rugs to making sure walkways are well lit.
There’s an unsettling rash of common injuries that occur in people’s homes, though. A checklist is a handy way to prevent those injuries from ever happening. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission offers a thorough home safety checklist designed specially to meet the needs of seniors. While the list is exhaustive – though well worth instituting – it begins with a straightforward Top 10:
- Install smoke and carbon dioxide alarms.
- Have an emergency escape plan.
- Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen.
- Make sure there’s good lighting inside and outside the home.
- Make sure walking surfaces are flat and slip-resistant, that they’re in good condition and free of any objects.
- Keep any possible fire starters, such as candles or hot plates, away from beds and bedding, flammable furniture and curtains.
- Have a professional check any fuel-burning appliances, such as furnaces and chimneys, annually.
- Install ground fault circuit interrupters in any area prone to dampness, like a bathroom or garage.
- Keep medications in child-resistant containers, and make sure they’re clearly marked.
- To prevent burns, set the water heater no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
A Home Safety Checklist Is A Simple, Readily Available, No-Cost Tool For Helping You Make Your Home As Safe As Possible for Seniors
The AARP is another wonderful source for a prepared home safety checklist designed for seniors’ homes. Rather than a straightforward list of do’s and don’ts, the AARP offers a number of “yes/no” questions to draw your attention to all the areas you should inspect.
In the section about floors and surfaces, for example, AARP’s safety checklist asks, “Is carpeting loose or torn?” With regard to doors and windows, the checklist has questions such as, “Are locks sturdy and easy to operate?” While some questions might seem simple or obvious, keep in mind that a home safety checklist is not designed to educate primarily. Rather, it’s a simple device to aid those taking the time to make a home safer keep track of all the areas of risk. And the variety of home safety checklists is broad, whether tailored to caring for a resident with Alzheimer’s or to a home with young children or even preventing a home invasion. A simple search online or a request made to a health care professional should get you a checklist that suits your needs amply.