Latest Update as of November 2022
With an increasing number of seniors living independently, it is even more important to make sure they are safe at home. Falls, burns, and poisoning are among the most common accidents involving older people, or even become victims of criminals who target the elderly. If you're an older adult living alone, or caring for an older person living alone, here's what you need to do to stay safe.
A. Keep emergency numbers handy
Always keep a list of it on every phone or write it in large enough print that you can easily read if you are in a hurry or scared. Be sure to list the numbers for:
Poison Control: 1-800-222-1222
A family member or friend to call in case of an emergency
Health care provider's office
B. Prevent falling
When walking on smooth floors, wear non-slip footwear, such as slippers with rubber/no-slip bottoms or flat, thin shoes that fit.
If you have a cane or walker, use it at all times instead of holding on to walls and furniture.
Consider buying a special alarm that you wear as a bracelet or necklace that if you fall and can't get to the phone, you can push a button on it that will call emergency services for you.
Don't rush to answer the phone and bring a cordless or cell phone or let an answering machine take over.
If you have trouble walking or balance, or have fallen in the past year, talk to your healthcare provider about having a special fall risk assessment.
Ask your provider if you would benefit from an exercise program to prevent falls.
C. Safety-proof your home
Use rails and banisters when going up and down stairs.
Tape all area rugs to the floor so they don't move when you walk on them.
Make sure all hallways, stairs, and walkways are well-lit and clear of objects.
D. Protect against fire and related hazards
Do not wear loose clothing or clothes with long sleeves when you are cooking.
Make sure heaters are at least 3 feet away from anything that can catch fire, such as curtains, blankets, or furniture and turn it off when you leave the room.
Replace appliances with frayed or damaged electrical cords.
Do not put too many electric cords in one socket or extension cord.
Install a smoke detector and replace the battery twice a year.
Do not smoke in bed or leave candles burning, even for a short time, in an empty room.
If there is a fire in your home, leave and call 911. Know at least two ways to get out of your apartment or home.
E. Avoid bathroom hazards
Place grab bars in the shower and near the toilet to make getting around easier and safer.
Set the thermostat on the water heater no higher than 120° F to prevent scalding.
If you have trouble getting in and out of your tub, or in and out of the bathroom, ask your provider to help you get a special tub seat or bench or raised toilet seat.
Place a rubber mat in the bathtub to prevent slipping.
F. Prevent poisoning
a. Carbon Monoxide
Make sure there are carbon monoxide detectors near all bedrooms, and be sure to test and replace the battery twice a year.
Don't try to heat your home with your stove, oven, or grill because it can give off carbon monoxide--a deadly gas that you can't see or smell.
Take your medications in a well-lit room, so you can see the labels.
Keep all medications in their original containers so you don't mix medications.
Bring all of your pill bottles to your health care provider's appointments so he or she can look at them and make sure you're taking the right amount.
To make them easier to read, ask your pharmacist to put large print labels on your medicines.
c. Cleaning products
Never mix bleach, ammonia, or other cleaning liquids when you clean. When mixed, cleaning fluids can create deadly gases.
G. Protect against abuse
Do not share your personal information, such as social security number, credit card, bank information, or account passwords, with people you do not know who are contacting you.
Keep your windows and doors locked at all times.
Never let a stranger into your home when you are there alone.
Always ask for written information about any offers, prizes, or charities and wait to respond until you have thoroughly reviewed the information.
Discuss offers made by sales people over the phone with a friend or family member.
Don't feel pressured into making purchases, signing contracts, or making donations. It's never rude to wait and discuss plans with a family member or friend.