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We all want what’s best for our aging loved ones. When an older parent decides to live alone, it’s only natural that we want to make sure that they’re safe and sound.
While sometimes it’s not safe for seniors to live alone, there are times when you can make changes around your older family members’ home to make it safer. This way, they can still maintain their independence, and you get peace of mind regarding their well-being.
Keep reading to discover safety tips for elderly people living alone!
To make an elderly living space safer, you’ll need to do the following, at the least.
In the US, falls are the leading cause of injury-related ER visits. That means reducing the risk of falls is a key aspect of senior safety. One key way to reduce falls? Installing grab bars and handrails.
Key locations to install these mobility aids include:
If finances allow, installing a stairlift in your relative’s home or apartment is a great way to make getting up and down the stairs easier. Just remember that stairlifts come with their own set of risks. So, if your elderly relative is not able to safely use this sort of system, it’s likely they are no longer able to live alone.
Fires and smoke inhalation present a significant risk for older adults, according to the US Fire Administration. Cooking presents a serious fire hazard for this population, which means that you need to rethink an older relative’s kitchen to ensure their safety.
Ways to make kitchens safer for aging adults include:
Being able to move around safely at night can be difficult for seniors. Having motion-activated night lights in both the interior and exterior of a senior’s residence can make it easier for older people to see potential obstacles in their paths, reducing the risk of tripping and falling.
For seniors with visual impairments, moving about during the day can be challenging as well. In these cases, installing brighter light bulbs and/or more lights to any space can make it easier for older people to see and move about safely in their own home.
Removing obstacles from walkways is another great way to reduce the odds of falling. Objects to move away from walkways include:
It’s easy for anyone to slip and fall in restrooms; for elderly people, those odds of falling increase. That means restrooms require adjustments before they can be used safely by older adults.
Senior-friendly changes to make to bathrooms include:
Technology can be your new best friend when it comes to senior safety. Whether it’s a home security or medical alert system, installing helpful devices around your loved one’s living space can help ensure their safety.
According to a report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, elderly people are actually less likely to be victims of most types of crime than those under the age of 65. That said, when seniors were victims of crimes, they were more likely to be victimized at or near their homes—more so than any other age group!
As such, it can bring both you and an elderly relative peace of mind to have a home security system installed. These systems can be more traditional setups, like ADT, or they can be DIY installations. Whatever you choose, it’s important that everyone knows how to operate the system and operate it well. This way, they will be more likely to know how to call for help or report suspicious activity when they need to right away.
According to the same Bureau of Justice Statistics report mentioned above, senior citizens are more likely to be victims of identity theft than those aged 16 to 24. As such, it may be a good idea for your aging relative to invest in identity theft protection services, such as those offered by AARP.
According to the CDC, millions of seniors fall every year. Millions of those falls require ER treatment, and hundreds of thousands result in hospitalization. Clearly, the risk of injury for seniors from falling cannot be understated.
Seniors need to be able to call for help in these situations, which can be difficult if they live alone. That’s why AARP and other senior care organizations advocate for older people to invest in medical alert devices.
Basic Medicare coverage will not cover costs associated with these medical systems. However, certain Medicare Advantage, or Medicare Part C, plans may cover some or all of these costs. Depending on eligibility, Medicaid recipients may also receive financial assistance for these devices.
Other options for financial assistance include going to the manufacturer’s website and clipping coupons or finding manufacturer rebates on select devices.
Clear communication is an important aspect of senior safety.
Make it a point to contact your elderly relative frequently, whether it be in person or by text or calls on a cell phone. What’s important is that you establish contact on a regular basis so that you have real-time confirmation that they are safe.
Checking in frequently is also great for your relative’s mental health, so prioritize regular communication on your caregiver checklist.
You won’t always be around your loved one, which is why you need to prepare ahead of time in case something happens. One way to do so is to update your relative’s emergency contacts in their phones so that they can call for help easily in case of an emergency. Specifically, you can create a speed dial contact list of emergency numbers in their phone.
We want our loved ones to have a high quality of life and be independent for as long as possible. However, when they are no longer safe at home, it’s time to reconsider what is in their best interest. In many cases, it’s best to move them in with other relatives or into a specialized senior center.
Making the decision to move your relative into a senior living community is hard. Actually finding that community doesn’t have to be, though. Our directory is full of thousands of senior living locations across the country, so you can find your aging relative a welcoming community near you, so they can receive the care they need with the dignity they deserve.