As you grow older, making sure your home is safe and secure gives you extra peace of mind.
Even if you are fit and active, you may realise that at times you don’t have as much energy, find it harder to balance, or that your eyesight is not as good as it used to be. This is why it is so important that your home is a safe place to be so that you can minimise the risk of accidents, particularly if you live alone.
Falls are the most common and serious type of accident for those over 65. Make sure every area of your home is free of floor clutter to reduce your chances of tripping. Make sure you have good lighting in each room so that you can see where you are going and wear flat, well-fitting shoes rather than loose-fitting slippers indoors.
Keep active by taking keep fit or dance classes and walk when you can, rather than driving or taking the bus, to keep your muscles strong. Eating a healthy, balanced diet will also help you to maintain strength and stamina. It’s also a good idea to have regular health and eye checks.
Bad burns to those over 65 can be fatal as the body finds it harder to fight infection. Scalds from boiling kettle water are very common. Other danger points are cookers and radiators. To reduce the risk, use a cordless kettle and only boil enough water for your immediate needs, such as a hot drink. Make sure you have space to put down hot pans and plates and try to use the back burners of the cooker to reduce the chance of spilling something over you.
Make sure carpets are well fitted and if you have any loose edges, ask a relative or handyman in to nail this down properly. It’s better to avoid small rugs if you can. Make sure you have things such as remotes and the telephone close to where you sit so you don’t have to keep getting up and down. Gas fires, boilers and heaters should be checked regularly by an expert.
Again, make sure carpets are well-fitted, particularly on the stairs. Try not to leave things cluttering the stairs to reduce the risk of falling. Fitting a letter tray to the inside of your letterbox means you don’t have to keep bending down. Keep keys and your handbag well away from the front door. If you don’t already have one fitted, do install a smoke alarm – they are relatively cheap and could save your life.
When running a bath, it’s best to run the hot and cold taps together to reduce the risk of scalding. Always check the water temperature before stepping in. Use a non-slip rubber mat if you are worried about your balance and slipping. Have a hand rail fitted on the wall to help you step in and out.
If you use an electric blanket always switch it off before getting into bed. It’s best to avoid these if you have incontinence problems. Regularly check the cord for fraying or scorch marks. Remember to have the phone, remote control, drink and medicine beside the bed before you get in.
Some local authorities offer free help for small jobs around the home, so do check with yours or through Age Concern: