PUT SAFETY FIRST - Tips from Dr. Marion

By Dr. Marion Somers, Ph. D., Dr. Marion Tips


  1. Eliminate all potential hazards in the home. No matter how clean or organized someone may be there are almost always safety or hygiene issues that need to be addressed. Many elderly are victims of accidents in their own homes, and most of these accidents can be avoided with a few common sense steps.
  2. Toss out throw rugs. Throw rugs can easily cause an elderly person to slip, trip, or fall. They are also very difficult to navigate in a wheelchair or when using a walker.
  3. Affix non-slip strips on the bathtub floor. This goes for any age, but especially the elderly. You can find them in most hardware or bathroom supply stores.
  4. Put all appliances, dishes, and silverware where they're easy to reach. If there isn't enough room to do this, you must arrange everything according to frequency of use. The last thing you want is for your elder loved one to stand on a step ladder to reach for heavy dishes or sharp knives.
  5. Add safety rails in the shower and tub, and near the toilet. Doing so makes it much easier to navigate what can often be tight and slippery spaces. Strongly consider hiring a handyman or plumber to help install them, too.
  6. Program telephones with emergency numbers. Take advantage of today's technologically advanced phones. Gather your elder's important contact information including the doctor, local police, fire department, department of water and power, you, and the closest caregiver other than yourself.
  7. Make sure all smoke detectors are in perfect working condition. You'd be surprised how many people have smoke detectors with dead batteries. That doesn't help in the case of a fire emergency. Check each of your elder's smoke detectors, and replace any expired batteries. The same goes for defective or broken detectors.
  8. Remove all clutter - if something doesn't serve a purpose, get rid of it. The elderly have gathered a lot of "stuff" over the years, and some of this is just clutter. But make sure you ask your elder about each item before you toss anything. You don't want to get rid of anything that holds sentimental or monetary value.
  9. Take medication along if your elder will be gone for an extended period of time. This is vital when your elder is traveling. You should also equip him or her with extra prescriptions in case the medication is lost or damaged. It's always better to be safe and plan ahead in case of a medical emergency.
  10. Keep emergency items in the car such as a spare tire, bottled water, a flashlight, an umbrella, and maps. It shouldn't take you more than an afternoon shopping trip to buy all of these items, and they could make a real difference in your elder's life.

©2006 Elder Health Resources of America, Inc.


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