Just because you’re getting older doesn’t mean you have to surrender your independence. As long as you’re of sound mind and body, you’re perfectly capable of caring for yourself, your family, and your home with dignity and pride. However, the aging process inevitably leads to a decline in physical strength and stamina, so even if you’re still able to do most of the things you’ve always done yourself, you may not be able to do them as well or for as long as you once could. Here are some tips on aging safely.
That’s why following smart safety tips for older adults is crucial to maintaining your independence. Being as careful as possible may seem to take some of the fun out of life, but choosing not to be might actually shorten your life or necessitate relocation to an assisted living facility. The following safety tips may help you live a longer and more satisfying life.
1. Protect against falling.
Falling is the number one threat to your well-being. Consider moving to a single-level home if at all possible. You can also invest in a stairlift.
If moving or buying a stairlift is out of the question, take steps to make your staircase safer. Test your railings regularly for wiggling, which can indicate loose screws or nails and pose a falling hazard. To make stairs easier to distinguish as you and your eyesight age, paint alternating risers in two different colors or place different-colored strips of duct tape along the stair edge to help with visibility. You may also consider using gripper tape to help prevent slips when going up or down the stairs in sock feet.
Keep your floors free of falling hazards, like throw rugs with curled-up corners, trash and/or clutter like shoes or stacks of newspapers, and electrical cords, to name a few. The path you take throughout your home should be entirely clear of debris and obstructions.
Make your bathroom(s) safer by installing “grab bars” in the tub or shower and beside each toilet so you’ll have something to grab in case you start to fall. Utilize items created specifically to reduce the risk of falling, like shower seats, walk-in tubs, rubber bath mats, and raised toilet seats with handlebars. Finally, install nightlights throughout the house so you never have to navigate in total darkness.
2. Fire-proof your home.
Remove fire hazards, like frayed electrical cords and loose or poorly contained flammable materials. Check the tag on your nightgown or pajamas to see if they’re fire-resistant.
Don’t use space heaters or heated blankets if at all possible, but if you must have one, keep it at least three feet away from any furniture, bedding, or curtains, and remember to turn it off before leaving the house or turning in for the night.
Have more than one smoke alarm and at least one carbon monoxide alarm placed throughout the house, and change the batteries at the end of each season.
I know it’s tempting to light candles inside the house because they’re pretty and they smell good, but refrain from doing so; it’s just too easy to forget to blow them out. Don’t use plug-in air fresheners either; they can easily catch fire once the liquid in them is used up. To keep your home smelling nice and create a relaxing atmosphere, consider using a battery-operated essential oil diffuser instead.
3. Know whom to call and how.
Keep a large-print list of emergency numbers in a central location where you can easily remember and access it. Include both 911 and your local emergency services’ and police office’s direct numbers. Also include your doctors’ names and numbers, the Poison Control Hotline (1-800-222-1222), and emergency contacts like neighbors, friends, and family.
Learn to use your phone. Local senior and community centers frequently offer free technology classes for seniors. You can also ask your grandchild to help. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and be patient with them even if they get impatient with you. They’re still young and can often be rude completely by accident. Plus, all the stuff you’re learning for the first time is so old-hat to them they may not even realize it needs explaining. Use it as a bonding experience, but also strive to really gain the necessary knowledge, because it could save your life.
It’s also important to know when and how to answer the phone. Don’t be afraid to let the answering machine or your voicemail pick up if the phone is too far away to reach in time. Hurrying to answer the phone presents a dangerous opportunity for you to trip and fall.
4. Make your home arthritis-friendly.
Replace round door knobs with single-lever door handles, which are easier to maneuver. Replace twist-and-turn faucet handles with single-lever handles as well, and cover them with color-coded rubberized faucet covers: red for hot and blue for cold. Obvious labeling will help prevent accidental burns while cooking or washing dishes. For that matter, set your maximum water heater temperature at 120 degrees to prevent scalding yourself while bathing or showering.
Have a family member or community volunteer help move down all the items in your home and kitchen that may be too high for you to reach safely. Losing height is a natural part of aging, and there’s no shame in being too short to reach something.
5. Be savvy to scams.
Robocalls were successfully banned for a time in the ‘90s, but now they’re back with a vengeance. Beware of scammers who are out to steal your information and your identity, or just to swindle you out of your money. Don’t agree to any offers made on the Internet or over the telephone. Don’t ever give out your personal information, especially your SSN, over the phone or to an unauthorized website. Don’t believe a stranger on the phone or on your front porch claiming a loved one is hurt or in danger and trying to get you to go with them; if this is in fact the case, you will be notified by a policeman in uniform, not a random individual.
6. Learn about your medications.
If you take multiple medications, know which ones are which—ask your pharmacist for large-print labels, keep your meds in their original containers, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to write down your daily medication regimen for you so you don’t accidentally take the wrong thing at the wrong time.
If you get prescribed a medication you’ve never taken before, ask the doctor or pharmacist about the kinds of side effects you can expect and any possible interactions with your other medications. Always take your medicines exactly as prescribed, and call your doctor immediately for guidance if you accidentally miss a dose.
7. Invest in a PPD.
Living independently in your golden years can be a source of pride and satisfaction, but it can also invite tragedy. To protect yourself from lasting bodily harm in the event of a fall, considering wearing a PPD (personal protection device) like the TOPPS Security Key Fob. If you fall while you’re home alone, a simple push of the red key fob button sends an immediate alert to an agent at the TOPPS Security Network with your exact GPS location, so that help can be notified and sent directly to you as quickly as possible.
The key fob comes with a lanyard that can be worn around the neck, so you can have it with you at all times without needing to constantly carry your keys around. It also comes with a free charger and a battery life that lasts around 5 days. Keep it charging on your nightstand when you go to bed, and you’ll have a lifeline within arm’s reach in case of a break-in or other nighttime emergency.
TOPPS can help you stay fearlessly independent and give your loved ones greater peace of mind knowing that you’re protected by the dedicated agents at the TOPPS Security Network. We hope these safety tips for older adults can also help you live a longer, safer, and more fulfilling life.