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We welcome back one of our favorite guest bloggers, Maria Alice, to The Purple Jacket!
We all value our independence and autonomy, both of which are threatened as a person gets older. It’s always better for an elderly person to continue to live in their own home, in familiar surroundings, where they are comfortable. For the majority of the elderly, this arrangement is possible with the right support. In today’s world, safety and home monitoring are easier than ever before.
One of the best ways to keep your elderly loved one safe is to have a home security system installed. You can find more information and great resources about different kinds of systems here. The benefit is two-fold: this gives your elderly family member a way to signal if there is a medical emergency, and it also provides protection from outside threats. It’s not pleasant to consider that elderly people living alone might be targets of crime, but unfortunately criminals prey on those least able to defend themselves.
Safety in the Bathroom
The bathroom can be a hazard for older people, whose vision and balance will most likely not be as good as it once was. Slipping in the tub and falling is a common source of injury in the elderly and can have tragic results, especially for those who live alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every five falls among the elderly leads to broken bones or a head injury. Steps can be taken to minimize risk, such as installing a step-in shower or adding a slip-proof surface to the bottom of the tub. Handrails can also be a major help to senior citizens and should be installed next to the toilet and in the shower.
Lighting and Clutter
Memory and mental function are often impaired in older people, especially those in the early stages of dementia. Sufficient lighting can make a big difference in preventing accidents, as can keeping the home clear of obstacles. The old saying, “a place for everything and everything in its place” was never more appropriate than when describing the kind of environment an elderly person needs. As memory fades, it’s more important than ever for everyday necessities to be within reach and in a familiar place.
Anything that poses a threat to the safety of your loved one should be put away or safety-proofed. Sharp knives may need to be removed from the kitchen. Hazardous corners should be covered with plastic bumpers. Make sure that there is a clear path to follow from one room to another throughout the house, since the risk of falling increases with age.
Carbon Monoxide and Fire Alarms
Besides a security system, carbon monoxide and fire alarms are two other ways that modern technology can help keep your elderly parent or loved one safe. Because memory in seniors can decrease, there is always the possibility they may turn on an appliance and then forget about it. It is also difficult to determine that there is carbon monoxide in your home without an alarm so it is important to have one installed and checked regularly.
Road Map to Independence
Taking these steps will increase the likelihood of an elderly individual living a safe and happy life in their own home. A security system will provide health and safety monitoring, and modifications to the bathroom can have a great impact on an elderly person’s mobility and independence.
Securing the environment from hazards by providing plenty of lighting and eliminating clutter are first steps toward creating a safe home. And of course, every home should have carbon monoxide and fire alarms to protect the people inside. With these steps, you can provide your elderly loved one with the independence and satisfaction that comes from continuing to live in their own home.
Maria Alice is a freelance writer currently living in Chicago. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a minor in Communication. She blogs about environmentally friendly tips, technological advancements, and healthy active lifestyles.