Many of us still have at least one loved one who either lives alone or is in our care.
For those of us in that situation, our elderly relatives can be a constant worry – What if they have a fall? What if they are robbed?.
But what can you do to help keep them safe?
Well, there’s plenty of little things you can do to keep your elderly loved ones safe at home.
The American Geriatrics Society’s Health in Aging Foundation has produced a set of safety tips for elderly people who live alone, which Starts at 60 has adapted for Australian audiences.
Keep emergency numbers handy
Firstly, it’s important to make sure your elderly relative or friend has a list of emergency phone numbers handy. Whether they’re written down in large print near the phone, stored somewhere easy to access in their mobile phone or stuck on the fridge, it’s important for them to be easily accessible in an emergency. These numbers should include 000, a family member or friend in case of an emergency and the number of a doctor.
Reduce the risk of falls
- Tape down any floor coverings that could be a trip hazard such as floor rugs, mats or loose carpet.
- Wear non-slip footwear such as rubber-bottomed or flat shoes with thin soles on smooth surfaces such as tiles and lino/vinyl floors.
- Clear up any clutter on the floor that could be tripped over, as well as any stacked clutter that could be bumped in to and topple over. ‘
- Instead of holding onto walls to stabilise themselves, people with mobility or balance issues should use a cane or a walker to move around the house.
- Don’t rush around the house – whether it’s to answer the telephone or answer the door, it’s not worth having a nasty fall for.
- Consider using an alarm or panic button. There are a number of products out there, including bracelets and necklaces as well as buttons for low areas of the bathroom and kitchen that can be used as alarms in case of a fall.
- Make sure the house is well lit and light switches are easily accessible at the entrance to a room.
- Always use handrails when going up and down stairs.
- Make sure there are grab bars installed in showers, bath tubs and near the toilet to prevent falls in the bathroom.
- Put rubber mats in the bathtub to prevent slipping.
Prevent fires and electrocution
- When cooking, don’t wear loose clothes that could catch fire. Don’t leave the stove top turned on unattended, in case you forget about cooking and a fire starts. Always set a timer on food in the oven to prevent you forgetting it’s there and possibly starting a fire.
- Don’t smoke in bed or leave candles burning unattended in a room.
- Place your heaters at least a metre away from any flammable items in a room such as curtains, furniture and bedding. Don’t place any clothing or flammable items on top of the heater. Turn off a heater when leaving a room.
- Make sure the home has smoke detectors installed and working. These need to be checked regularly and batteries changed at least twice each year.
- If there is a fire in the home, don’t put it out. Find a safe path out of the house and call 000.
- Don’t use electrical appliances too close to water such as near the kitchen or bathroom sinks or the bath tub.
- Replace any damaged electrical cords or sockets, or electrical appliances with damaged cords.
- Don’t overload power sockets or power boards with too many cords.
Prevent poisoning or mixing up medications
- If there are any gas products such as gas stoves, ovens or heaters, make sure there is a window open or properly ventilation in the home to protect from carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Keep medications in their original containers to prevent an mix ups.
- Ask the pharmacist to put large print labels on medications to make them easier to read.
- Take medications in a room with ample lighting so the labels can be read properly.
- Don’t mix cleaning products such as bleach or ammonia-based cleaners without wearing adequate protection such as gloves and a face mask.
Protection from scammers, thieves or door knockers
- Keep windows and doors locked at all times, even when someone is home.
- Don’t let strangers into the home when you’re home alone.
- Don’t agree to any offers made to you over the phone without talking to someone else such as friend or family member about it.
- Don’t feel pressured to make any purchases, sign any contracts or make any donations to door knockers without speaking to a family member or friend.
This article originally appeared on Starts at 60.