Keeping Seniors Safe at Home
Aging in place is becoming the new norm for Canada’s aging population. Unlike previous generations, today’s seniors are making the choice to stay right where they are, in their own homes, among their own neighbourhoods and communities. They are choosing to adapt their homes to their changing needs, giving themselves greater independence for years to come.
The Risks of Aging in Place
Maintaining independence and staying within a familiar community is certainly important for many people, however aging in place can come with some dangers, the most common of which is falls. Here’s what the stats say:
- Every year around one-third of people over 65 have a fall in their home.
- Falls account for 85% of injury-related hospital admissions for seniors.
- On average, Canadian seniors stay in hospital for 10 days longer than for any other cause.
- More than one-third of admissions to long-term care facilities registered happen after a fall.
Falls can be very serious for seniors, causing them injury which may lead to long-term disability. This, in turn, can result in premature loss of independence and lead to a lower quality of life.
How to Avoid Falls
With falls being so prevalent among the older population, it’s worth looking at what can be done to avoid them. What steps can be taken to minimize the risk of falls at home? Seniors and their family members can carry out a basic risk assessment to identify what and where any trip hazards might be. The best way to pinpoint hazardous areas is to walk around the house, looking for any potential areas where someone might slip or trip.
Here are some typical hazards along with possible solutions;
- Carpets and rugs can easily cause a fall. Make sure any loose rugs are removed, and carpets are well-fitted.
- Along the same line are loose cables or wires. These need to be neatly tucked away.
- Raised thresholds and doorsills can also be a hazard. This can be solved by levelling the flooring throughout a home.
- A ramp, stairlift, or homelift might be the best solution if stairs pose a problem.
- Bathrooms may need to be modified in order for seniors to use them safely without slipping. Grab bars may be a good option here.
- Adding or improving lighting can also be helpful throughout the home, especially if there are any dark corridors.
As well as doing a basic risk assessment, caregivers may be interested in what else they can do to keep their elderly loved ones as safe as possible. Age Safe® Canada has created the Senior Home Safety Specialist™ course in an effort to help reduce the risk of falls at home. The course, aimed primarily at professionals in the senior services industry, is designed to help participants gain a comprehensive understanding of issues related to home safety, and you can find out more about it here
Keeping Seniors Safe
Keeping the older generation safe from trips and falls is just one way to make sure they are able to live as comfortably and independently as possible. Family members and the community can do their part to ensure seniors are safe too. If you have an elderly family member or neighbour, check in on them regularly. Remind them to take things slowly when moving around their home. Perhaps offer help tackling any big cleaning or gardening jobs or keeping paths and driveways clear. Encourage them to keep emergency phone numbers handy or even to wear an alert necklace to call emergency services in case of a fall or any difficulties.
Aging in place might be the right choice for you or members of your family. Although there are risks, as you can see, measures can be taken to minimize dangers and promote independent living in a safe and comfortable environment for many years to come.