Today, many more elderly people are living independently. Whilst home may seem a safe place to be, there are in fact a number of health and safety concerns that must be addressed to truly ensure the safety of your elderly relatives.
Did you know that every year, more than one in three (3.4 Million) people over 65 suffer a fall that can cause serious injury, and even death? And that every minute, six people over 65 suffer a fall? (Age UK)
There will always health & safety risks, no matter where you are. Whilst you cannot eliminate the risks of falls, trips, burns, and other accidents completely, you can take measures to decrease the likelihood of them occurring and help put your mind at ease. This checklist aims to help you identify the hazards in the home of your elderly relatives, and help you to put measures in place to prevent accidents from happening.
- - Ensure smoke & CO detectors are installed and tested regularly
- - Clearly label on and off switches on kitchen appliances
- - When cooking, turn handles of pots & pans away from the front of the stove/counter
- - If installed, consider deactivating waste disposal units
- - Keep appliance cords away from the edge of counters, the sink, and other water sources
- - Do not store sharp knives loosely in a draw - instead store in a knife block
- - Avoid cluttered utensil draws, which may hide sharp or dangerous objects
- - Store household cleaning products/chemicals in a separate area, even out of the kitchen
- - Do not place rugs or mats on a tiled kitchen floor
Extra Tip - It’s very easy to forget to turn off the oven or the stove. To reduce fire risks, think of putting reminders up in the kitchen.
- - Keep all shampoos/body washes in a safe place where they cannot fall into a bath/shower
- - Place an anti-slip mat in all baths/showers
- - If there is a bathroom rug, ensure there is also an anti-slip underlay
- - Ensure there is a correctly-installed handrail to aid getting in and out of the shower/bath
- - Avoid fabric or plastic shower curtains which may cause trips
- - Consider installing an emergency cord in a bathroom in case an accident happens
- - Ensure baths/showers are properly sealed to prevent leaks that could cause slips
- - Regularly check the bathroom for mold, especially hidden areas
Extra Tip - Over time, residue from bath and shower products, like shampoo and body wash, can build up on bath and shower surfaces. This residue can be very slippery, so make sure that baths and showers are cleaned on a regular basis.
- - Keep bedroom floors free of clutter to prevent falls
- - Keep a torch near the bed in case of power failures
- - Place an appropriate chair in the bedroom where an elderly person can sit to dress
- - Do not run electrical cables across walkways
- - Ensure lamp switches are easily reached from the bed
- - Ensure cupboards are easily accessible and that the contents are easy to reach/remove
- - Ensure the bed is at the appropriate height to avoid falls
- - Avoid the use of bedspreads, which can lead to trips
- - Make sure that bedside tables are sturdy
Extra Tip - When in the house, elderly people often wear slippers. Make sure that slippers have anti-slip soles, and if they don’t, add some anti-slip material.
Corridors, stairs and other rooms
- - If required, have a suitable stairlift professionally installed
- - Ensure there is a sturdy handrail installed on each side at all stairways
- - Ensure lighting covers the entire stairway
- - Do not place loose rugs at the top or bottom of stairways
- - Ensure that furniture does not obstruct walkways
- - Do not run electrical cables across walkways
- - If using rugs on hard floors, ensure an anti-slip rug underlay is in place
- - Use anti-slip materials under sofa cushions to prevents falls when getting up
- - Ensure stairways are maintained properly to prevent hazards like loose floorboards
Extra Tip - Bannisters and handrails are commonplace by stairways, but it is important that they are secure and at an appropriate height. It recommended that handrails are placed at adult elbow height.
We hope you find this checklist useful and take the time to properly survey the home of your elderly relatives and make sure you take action to reduce the likelihood of accidents. Sit down with elderly relatives to ensure that they are aware of the different dangers present in their homes. Whilst elderly people may be keen to keep their independence, it is important that they know the steps they can take to avoid household accidents.
Practical Surfaceware supplies a number of different products that can be used to make home a safer place and help make independent living more manageable. To see our range of anti-slip products, including bath and shower mats, rug underlays, anti-slip slipper soles, and much more, visit www.practicalsurfaceware.com.
There are many more measures that can be taken to ensure safety in the home. However, following the advice is in this guide is a great way to start making home a safer place to be for your elderly relatives.