The high incidence of nuclear family living and changing demographics of the way we live and work in the post-COVID era has ushered in a dire need for care for the elderly and aging adults. They are highly susceptible to harm from falls/accidents inside the house and considering the fact that most of them are isolated or living independently, these become a big point of concern for the family members. 

The severity of medical complications such as fractures, and concussions tend to rise with age. While not all falls lead to fatalities, they are a big cause for worry for the safety of these age groups as high probabilities of falls/accidents combine with the high possibility of sustaining bodily harm and injury. We look at detailing some home safety tips for aging adults to prevent falls and accidents here. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list and you should consult with your healthcare practitioner for a detailed list curated to the unique needs of the elderly.

  1. Safety-proof the home and surroundings– The elderly are more at risk at home than in institutionalized conditions, which is designed to keep them safe and under the supervision of specialists. Their surroundings need to be made safety-proof to accommodate age-impaired vision, hearing, slower memory, and gait/ movement. The elderly spend the majority of their time indoors and thus hazard control is essential to prevent falls/accidents. Well-lighted stairways and hallways, Non-skid tiles, grills and railings for balconies and other open areas, rungs for support are just some of the basic measures that can be installed as safety preventive measures.
  2. Speed-Dial The numbers of family members and care professionals should be there on a speed dial so that they can reach out with voice/click in case of an emergency.
  3. Fire/Cuts Hazard Safety-Something as insignificant asloose clothing while cooking can be a fire hazard for the elderly and hence having a loved one or a professional care provider around is of importance for their safety. If the aging/ elderly family member is living alone and is of advanced age, then hiring a professional care provider to support daily chores is advised, to avoid these accidents.
  4. Medication needs- Over-medication can lead to poisoning and under-medication/ missing dosages can have harmful ramifications as well. Memory impairment is one of the common characteristics of the elderly, hence it needs to be supported or supervised to ensure accidents related to these do not occur- labeling the medicines with large print, using medicine dosage boxes, having the dosages checked by the care practitioner are small steps which help prevent the big accidents.
  5. Preventing Falls- Preventing falls is critical for the elderly who are highly susceptible to injury. Some of the points that are to be considered-

               a. Proper footwear to avoid falls on smooth tiles and wet areas. Slippers with rubber soles, and non-skid shoes are a must-have to avoid balance issues.

             b. Gait- With advancing age, people have a gait that becomes rigid and inflexible owing to various aches, joint pains, and other bodily complications. They can consult the health-care practitioner to have their gait checked and take advice on medicines/ yoga/physio routines that would enable better gait and mobility. Having a cane or walker is advised for people who need additional support. 

              c. Alarm Watches/Necklaces/ Bracelets- In case of an emergency, these handy devices ensure that they can reach out for support effortlessly.

We covered some of the basic steps to prevent falls and accidents here, yet, in the case of people with unique medication/ care needs, it is better to have an added precaution of a dedicated care professional to ensure the health and well-being of the elderly/aging family members. Having someone to talk with is essential for their mental health, hence joining similar age groups in the society, family outings, and hobby clubs are things to be encouraged.

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