Improving Home Safety for Ageing Australians is a Matter of Priority
In order to remain in your family home as you get older, it’s possible you’ll need to make some changes to improve home safety. By making your house safer you’ll not only feel a greater sense of security, but you’ll also reduce the risk of hurting yourself unnecessarily.
Being an older person living alone can be a magnet for thieves. To improve your house security, make sure that your door locks are in good working order and that you have a deadbolt on your entry door. Consider installing security screens to doors and windows, and put your car in the garage if you have one. Nowadays you can install cameras and security alarms to your home as well.
But the simplest prevention against danger if you’re home alone, is to never let strangers into the home, and keep your doors and windows locked at all times.
Also, consider wearing a personal emergency pendant. These pendants have a button that you can push if you’re injured, have a health scare, are lost or feel at threat for any reason. The pendants or watches typically have a GPS tracker installed, and a list of up to 5 emergency contacts that’ll be contacted if the button’s activated. If there’s aged care services in place you’re receiving a home care package, you can ask your home care package manager to add this service to your package of care. This would always depend on the available funds in the package.
Emergency pendants are great to have in case you fall and hurt yourself, but preventing falls from happening in the first place is obviously better. There are many ways to prevent falls. Firstly, remove loose or slippery objects from your floor, and remove clutter. Many people have floor rugs that curl up on the corners, or that aren’t secured to the ground. These rugs and mats are a real tripping hazard.
Lips into showers and step ups at entry doors can also be a real risk for tripping. Look at having your home modified to remove these lips if you’re able to do so. And look outside for any uneven ground such as pavers. You could trip over on these as well. If you need help financially accessing home modifications, contact My Aged Care and have an assessment to see which aged care services you’re eligible to receive.
Having chairs that you can get in and out of easily is crucial as your mobility changes with age. There are some great chairs out there that tilt to help you get in and out of, but these can be expensive. If you can’t afford these remote control chairs, look at getting a firmer couch that’s easy to rise from. Also think about your bed height. If you feel like it’s a climb into bed, the solution could be as easy as removing the feet from the bed to lower it slightly. But getting in and out of bed with ease is important in preventing falls.
And remember to use your walking stick or wheelie walker if you have one, and try to use it at all times for additional support and security.
Home Assessment from an Occupational Therapist
An Occupational Therapist (OT) can assess your home to for required modifications to improve your safety and reduce your risk of injury. For example, they could recommend that you use a shower chair and have hand rails installed into your shower. If you’re worried about the cost of an OT, you can go to your G.P. and request a management plan. This G.P. management plan can give you a Medicare rebate of up to 5 allied health visits per year, which can include Occupational Therapy.
You can also access OT if you’ve already had an assessment with the ACAT for aged care services, and currently receive a home care package.
Reduce the Risk of Fire and Danger
Often older Australians get injured from burns. There are some simple changes that you can make to reduce the risk of getting burned. Firstly, don’t wear loose, free flowing clothing when you’re cooking. The risk of sleeves catching fire over a stove is actually possible, but completely preventable.
Also if you feel the cold and you have an electric heater in the home, make sure that the heater isn’t near curtains, clothing or furniture. And don’t forget to turn them off when you leave the room.
Many people don’t have their smoke detectors checked regularly and they’re not in working order. It’s really important to make sure that you have smoke detectors installed and that they’re in good working order. Check your state laws regarding smoke alarm legislation and ensure that your house meets the requirements.
Risk of Poisoning from Medication Errors
Poisoning is more common among the elderly than you make think. Poisoning is often caused by mistaking medications. If you keep your medications in their original containers then you’re less likely to mix them up, and when you take your medications, try to take them in a well-lit room where you can clearly read the labels. If you’re getting muddled up with your medications, your Pharmacist can package your medications into a sealed calendar pack, whereby the regular medications are sorted into correct dosages based on dates and times. The purpose it to reduce mistakes with medications and simplify the process of taking your medications.
Protection against Abuse
Last but certainly not least, protect yourself from being abused or taken advantage of. By keeping your personal information confidential you’ll avoid being subjected to scammers who are after credit card details, passwords and other account information. Don’t give anybody these details over the phone or with people who you don’t know.
Internet safety and phone safety are really important as you age. If you’re worried about being taken advantage of through the use of technology, there are many courses available to help you better understand cyber security. If you don’t want to do a course it’s best to exercise caution at all times when talking over the phone and handing over information online. Keep your details confidential and stay safe.