Your home is your haven. It’s somewhere you want to feel safe and secure. That being said, there are a few potential hazards in and around the home. As you’re more prone to accidents and injuries as you age, it’s essential to ensure your home is safe and carry out some checks.
Fortunately, there are ways you can update your home to make it suit a range of medical concerns and mobility issues. In this article, we’ll share the best home safety tips to keep you or a loved one safe at home.
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- Bathroom Health and Safety Tips
- Living Space Health and Safety Tips
- Hygiene Tips and Best Practices for Your Home
- Kitchen Home Safety Checklist
Bathroom Health and Safety
Make your bathroom safer with the below upgrades to minimise the chances of falls and injuries.
1. Attach grab bars
Add these to the wall near the toilet and in the shower/bath to provide support when you’re washing or lifting yourself off the toilet. Grab bars enable you to thoroughly clean yourself without any concerns about stability.
2. Regulate water temperature
Scalding water can be dangerous, as you have reduced reaction times and possible sensory impairments when you age. Ensure the shower and tap temperature doesn’t exceed 44°C if you or a loved one is vulnerable and showers alone.
3. Install a shower chair or walk-in shower
If you or a loved one experiences balance issues, a shower chair makes personal hygiene more attainable without the fear of falling over.
These chairs are specifically designed with non-slip tips on the feet to prevent sliding around when exposed to water. Shower chairs are ideal for those with mobility and strength problems and help you to maintain proper hygiene.
You might also want to consider a walk-in shower. This is because these make bathing far safer than regular showers and also reduce anxieties for people who have limited mobility since they provide much more support with such features as in-built grab rails and slip-resistant surfaces.
4. Changing your bath to a walk-in bath
A traditional bathtub is not always the best option, especially for the elderly or those with limited mobility. Accessibility can often be difficult due to the height and ergonomics of the tub, as well as a lack of a door to enter and exit.
This is where walk-in bath can be hugely beneficial. Walk-in baths have doors that allow for easy entry and exit when taking a bath, which can prevent accidents from taking place. Aside from the ease of accessibility, walk-in baths offer a much more supportive design that include bespoke optional additions depending on the requirements of your loved one.
Also when taking a bath, keep in mind that posture is also very important. Due to a walk-in bath’s more upright design, you sit straighter, keeping your back in a better position for long-term use.
5. Add a raised toilet seat
Traditional toilet seats can make going to the bathroom difficult since they cause you to lower yourself to a seated position. Raised toilet seats are available at various heights—such as three inches higher—making it easier to pull yourself up. Some toilet seats feature arms, making it even more helpful to lower and lift yourself and avoid injury.
6. Upgrade lighting and doors
Falls in the bathroom are quite common as you age, as you’re more prone to slipping on water. Consider switching to a bathroom door that opens outwards so a loved one can easily access the room in the event of a fall.
Additionally, vision can worsen with age, so those trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night can be a safety hazard. However, adding sensor lights along the hallway and in the bathroom ensure the environment is well-lit to eradicate bumping into furniture or falling.
Living Space Health and Safety
7. Take furniture shape and details into consideration
Cabinets and tables can have sharp corners. Switch to furniture that’s rounded to have less of an impact if you bump into them. You can also try upgrading to round knobs to alleviate the effects of arthritis when you’re pulling drawers open.
8. Choose practical furniture
- When looking for sofas and chairs, opt for ones that are suitable for the elderly, such as armchairs, and avoid sofas that sink too low and make it difficult to get up.
- For storage solutions, consider ones that are easily reachable (under-the-bed storage involves bending down and twisting, which might not be suitable for an elderly home). Instead, drawers that easily glide out avoid twisting and pulling.
- All furniture should be sturdy and not too light that it’ll easily fall over, though not too heavy that it could crush you if it fell on you.
- A firm mattress might be a better alternative to a softer one, as it provides more support, helps to align the spine and can make it easier to get out of bed.
9. Avoid rugs and clutter
One of the best home safety tips to make your home a hazard-free space is to eliminate any objects that could encourage falls. Remove rugs in the living space and secure any carpet edges with tape to make it less likely you’ll trip over them.
Speaking of the floor, have a home for objects to avoid leaving clutter on the floor. Putting things away means there’s more floor space and fewer items to trip over.
10. Make the space accessible
Making items easily accessible in the living space is paramount to eliminating the need to bend down and reach up high, which helps to reduce the chances of falls. For example, keep objects at waist height and store everyday objects within easy reach. A grabber might be investible to help you reach things without stretching.
Another benefit of an accessible home is having the independence to complete tasks and reach things without requiring assistance.
11. Wear a personal alarm
If you live alone and are concerned about your safety if you fall, wear a personal alarm in the form of a necklace. These devices alert loved ones or carers at the press of a button and are ideal if you’re in a situation where you can’t get out of yourself and don’t have a phone to hand.
Hygiene and Best Practices for Your Home
12. Change clothes daily
Clothes can harbour bacteria if left unclean, which can lead to skin infections and bad odour. Avoid the spread of germs by changing into fresh underwear daily.
13. Invest in disinfectant sprays
Keeping a home clean can be difficult if you have limited mobility. But you can improve home and personal hygiene by wiping down items and surfaces you use daily with an antibacterial spray. Spritz door handles, taps and kitchen surfaces.
14. Buy helpful hygiene aids
There are many gizmos and products available that can aid personal and home hygiene for the elderly. Stock up on no-rinse wipes and sprays and long-handled brushes that enable you to keep surfaces quickly and without having to bend down.
15. Keep emergency contacts on speed dial
It’s important you have access to contact a loved one instantly if you’re in need. If you or a loved one has memory issues, affix speed dial numbers onto your phone to provide peace of mind.
16. Wear appropriate footwear around the house
Poor-fitting slippers can pose a fall risk if you have mobility issues. Stick to slippers that fit properly and have an adequate grip on the sole, making you less likely to slip on wooden flooring.
17. Set the boiler to a timer
Stay warm throughout the day, especially during winter, by setting the boiler to an appropriate temperature that switches on and off automatically throughout the day. A cold environment can contribute to sore joints and restrict movement.
18. Limit access to chemicals and dangerous substances
If a loved one has dementia, remove anything hazardous that could cause an accident, such as electrical equipment or chemicals. Removing them completely can prevent any life-threatening accidents.
If applicable, store medication out of the way and invest in a pill dispenser to prevent taking too much and act as a daily reminder.
19. Install light sensors
Automatic light sensors ensure a home is well-lit without you or a loved one having to press on light switches, especially for those with dementia.
20. Replace handles on taps
Make it comfortable to turn on and off a tap by updating to ergonomic, comfortable handles. You may even wish to upgrade to automatic water dispensers to prevent having to turn the tap at all.
21. Check alarm systems
It’s important that you have smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors installed in a home and that they’re checked often. If you or a relative has reduced hearing, position alarms in areas that are used regularly, such as bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens. Some alarm systems also have flashing lights to alert you of danger.
22. Keep a lamp next to the bed
This provides easy access to light if you need to use the toilet in the middle of the night.
23. Install a stairlift
If you live in a home with at least two stories, a stairlift can provide extra assistance if you have trouble walking up and down the stairs.
24. Replace doors with safety aspects
Update doors with a self-locking mechanism should you or a loved one forget to lock the door.
25. Store all electronics appropriately
Keep devices away from water to prevent electric shocks.
26. Prevent common kitchen hazards
Here’s a home safety checklist for the kitchen
- Keep a first-aid kit with plasters, bandages and antiseptic cream
- Sharpen knives; blunt blades require more work and are more dangerous
- Avoid loose-fitting clothing to prevent a fire hazard
- Always wear oven gloves when removing hot food
- Don’t face pan handles outwards on the hob, as you could knock them
Hopefully, these home safety tips will help you create a home where you feel safe. Your well-being is hugely important, and taking steps to make your life easier (and safer) can have a huge impact on your physical and mental health.