We’ve talked about Winter Hazards for Seniors in our Articles:
Further on the subject of Senior safety is general mobility and slips, trips, and falls… especially for seniors that are alone, with no full time caregivers.
Seniors Staying Alone: A Few Tips to Make Things Easier
If you have an elder at home that needs to be cared for all the time, you probably have your hands full with a lot many things. Be it loss of sight, sound, or memory, incontinence, depression, or immobility that the elder is affected with, he/she is going to be largely dependent on you and others in the house for everything.
It might be difficult for you to imagine leaving the senior person alone at home for an hour or a whole week. But what will you do if you’re faced with such a situation? You need to be prepared for the same so that when need be, you can leave the senior person alone at home without worrying about them.
Here are some tips that will help you take better care of the elders you care about. Whether they live on their own or need to be left alone for a couple of hours or days, making use of these tips will take the burden off your shoulders.
Tips on Proofing the Home
Even if you don’t ever leave the seniors home alone, you can’t keep a watchful eye on them 24/7. As such, it’s important to proof your home to minimize risks.
- The floors need to be clear of unwanted items. Articles lying about can cause seniors to trip and hurt themselves.
- Take extra care if you have stairs inside the house. Objects should never be left at the head and foot of the stairs in particular.
- Electrical cords that don’t lie flat are a risk; secure them appropriately.
- Make sure that you don’t have any throw rugs inside the house as they can cause seniors to slip and fall. If you must have rugs, secure them with rubber anti-slip liners. The rug also needs to lie flat against the floor.
- The bathroom floor should be free of objects. Install anti-slip mats in the bathtub and shower.
- Ensure that there is adequate lighting in all the rooms. Install nightlights so that the floor is clearly visible.
Tips to Help Decide If the Senior Can Be Left Alone
Not all seniors can be left alone to fend for themselves; even if it be for a short while or a few days. In case of an emergency, entrust the senior person to the care of a responsible adult or a professional care giver.
To decide if the senior person will be okay on their own, you need to consider a few things. If the person is bed-ridden, may wander off, cannot read warning signs, isn’t able to access emergency services by themselves, cannot ask for help, etc., then leaving them alone won’t be the right thing to do.
Even if the person needs to use a folding scooter or any equipment that helps with mobility, he/she can be left alone if they can carry out basic functions without assistance from others. They should be able to prepare simple meals or re-heat meals on their own, access the toilet without problems, be aware of the surroundings, and most importantly, be able to ask for help in case of an emergency.
Tips for Seniors Living Alone
These tips will help seniors who are living alone or those that have to stay alone for a few hours or days.
- Ensure that all items that the senior person will be in need of are placed within easy reach. Also keep dangerous items like toxic fluids out of their reach.
- Smoke alarms should be operating properly. Replace the batteries with new ones every six months.
- Leave notes on appliances such as burners, the oven, the coffee machine, the hair dryer, etc. to remind seniors to turn them off after use.
- A fire extinguisher should be handy around the fireplace and in the kitchen. Seniors should also know how to operate one.
- Medicines should be kept handy. If the senior person has cardiac disease, or diabetes, or if he/she is affected with a chronic illness, it will help to keep medicines stashed in different areas of the house. This way, the senior person won’t have to rush from one place to another in case of an emergency.
- Avoid telling everyone that the senior person is going to be alone at home. Seniors living on their own shouldn’t disclose this information to strangers or delivery boys.
- You don’t have to be best friends with neighbors, but mingle with them a bit. They are the ones that will be able to first notice anything wrong. You might want them to be aware of the senior person’s health condition.
- Have a friend or relative call or pay a visit every day. Get a lock box installed outside the house so that trusted individuals can get into the house in case there’s an emergency. Never leave keys in obvious places such as under the carpet or pots.
- If the senior needs to use a mobility scooter to get around, or if he/she suffers from vertigo, epileptic seizures, etc., consider repositioning locks to a lower level.
By following the tips mentioned here, seniors shouldn’t have a problem when left alone for a while. The safety measures stated here will also be of use to seniors who wish to live independently.
By ensuring you’re doing the right things, you’ll have to deal with less stress regarding the safety of your loved one. When you know that everything has been taken care of and that things are in control, you’ll have nothing to worry about.
Some Content by Julie Howard – See Julie Howard’s blog @ Safety.com