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Stay Safe and Independent
June is National Safety Month, so for seniors, it is a good time to take steps to make them safer. By increasing seniors’ safety, they can not only experience better health and wellbeing but also stand a greater chance of living in their own homes independently for as long as possible. With the wealth of information available on senior safety, though, it can be difficult to know where to start. Two areas to consider are home and vehicle safety.
Tackling home safety can start by simply assessing the senior’s needs, then modifying his or her home to accommodate those needs. Does the senior suffer from arthritis? Are there trip hazards in the home? Does the senior use a walker? The Society of Certified Senior Advisors has compiled a list of the top 11 home safety improvements from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which can help you get started in the right direction as you consider safety improvements:
- Levered doorknobs
- Grab bars in bathrooms
- Levered faucets in kitchen sink
- Handrails on both sides of stairwells and on front and rear steps
- Grab bars in showers
- Removal of any door threshold
- Movable shower heads for those who must sit
- Portable shower seats
- A bedroom and a bathroom with a bath/shower on the first floor
- Widened doors to accommodate wheelchairs
- Ramps for those using walkers and wheelchairs
Read more about home modifications in our Universal Home Design for Senior Independence article.
Another area of concern when it comes to older adults’ safety is driving. Driving allows seniors to get around independently, but if the senior’s driving abilities diminish, the risk of injury or death outweighs the benefits of mobility. Seniors at the greatest risk of driving impairment are those over 75, and in particular, those over 80. Depending on their physical and cognitive abilities, seniors can continue to drive, and can increase their safety on the road by taking some preventive measures:
- Exercise for strength and flexibility (This helps with maneuvering a car.)
- Know what prescriptions may interfere with driving
- Have regular eye checkups
- Drive in the best conditions: in daylight with good weather
- Plan driving routes in advance
- Find safe routes with left-turn arrows at intersections, well-lit streets, and easy parking
- Ensure driving is distraction free (no eating, talking on phone, or loud music)
- When in doubt, don’t drive.
Seniors who are concerned about safety, or who feel uncomfortable driving, may want to consider options for assistance. In-home caregiving can offer seniors independence while they remain in their own homes. Comfort Keepers® in-home care providers can meet with seniors and their families to assess home safety and make recommendations for improvements. Our caregivers can also assist seniors with daily tasks and transport seniors on errands, to appointments, or even to social events. Contact your local Comfort Keepers office today to find out how we can help keep seniors safe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (January 31, 2013) Older adult drivers: Get the facts. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/Older_Adult_Drivers/adult-drivers_factsheet.html.
The Society of Certified Senior Advisors. (2010).The consumer’s guide to home safety for seniors. Retrieved from http://www.csa.us/wp-content/uploads/Docs/HomeSafetyforSeniorsGuide.pdf.