Home safety for active seniors


An increasing number of people in their sixties and seventies are opting to stay on in their own homes these days or to live with family instead of moving to retirement villages or assisted-living units that have been specifically designed for senior citizens.

However, even the most active and healthy of them should prepare for at least some loss of mobility and dexterity as they get older and take precautions to avoid household accidents and age-related injuries.

Families who have grandparents living with them may also want to go through their homes to identify and address potential problems.  

The place to start is the bathroom, which is usually the most dangerous room in the house for seniors. Slippery floors, hard objects and sharp corners are not the best combination for those whose balance is in question, and the minimum suggested safety precautions to avoid falls and fractures are showers instead of baths, non-skid rubber strips or mats in standing areas and sturdy grabrails next to the toilet and to aid getting in and out of the shower.

In the kitchen, hot stove plates and sharp utensils are the usual injury culprits, but it also helps if all taps, electrical sockets and appliance controls are within easy reach. In addition, nothing flammable should be kept near the stove and countertops and cupboards should be at a convenient height for the seniors in the household.

Other safety aspects to consider include ensuring that passages and walkways are unobstructed; that windows and doors are easy to open and close securely, and that any loose rugs and mats have non-slip backing strips.

Furniture should also be of a comfortable height to allow seniors to rise easily, electrical leads and cords should be ticked or tacked safely out of the way and all stairways should have sturdy bannisters or grabs rails.

In short, it often takes just a little preparation to prevent a nasty accident - and usually, the extra safety measures will benefit everyone else in the family too.

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