Accidents happen to people of all ages and home safety is important for everyone, but there are some risks that are higher as you get older. Here are some tips for reducing the likelihood of problems occurring in the home.
Fire-related accidents can happen to anyone but older people can be at greater risk of injury or even death in a fire. Factors that contribute to the danger include reduced mobility, a reduced ability to tolerate smoke and burns and a poor sense of smell. The risk of fire can be reduced by fitting a smoke alarm, using a fireguard, having regular checks on your electric blanket and being careful with smoking materials.
Con men and criminals can target any home and the same rules about security apply to everyone. Always lock doors and close windows when you go out, do not leave keys anywhere they could easily be found. Always check who a caller is before opening the door and put the door chain on. If an unexpected caller comes to the door do not let them in before checking their identity. If you have any suspicions call 999.
Also be aware that criminals can also target older people by mail, for example by sending letters informing them that they have won money or a valuable prize. These may ask you to send money or call a premium rate phone line to claim your prize and are a very common form of scam to look out for.
Falls are a common accident for elderly people and many of them can be prevented. Ensuring that your floor coverings are even and safe is very important. Avoid loose rugs and slippery floors and make sure your footwear is suitable. Sometimes just standing still for a moment when you first stand up will help you get your balance and make you less likely to fall. Other risk factors for falls include:
• Poor mobility and balance
• Some medication can increase the risk of falls
• Poor nutrition
• Diseases such as stroke and heart disease
• Being female
• A history of previous falls
If you are at risk of falls it will be worth wearing hip protectors which have been shown to reduce the risk of hip fracture and investing in a panic alarm for the elderly so that you can get help if you fall and cannot get up. According to the NHS regular exercise can reduce your risk of having a fall.
To avoid accidental poisoning by gas or carbon monoxide it is important to have fuel burning devices maintained and checked regularly and make sure that your chimneys and flues are swept every year.
Hypothermia can happen because fuel bills are so expensive and some older people have difficulty in paying them. Measures you can take to avoid your body temperature from getting too low include:
• Eating regularly and having hot drinks throughout the day
• Wearing several thin layers of clothes, preferably natural fibres like cotton and wool
• Get up and walk around at regular intervals
You should contact your gas and electricity suppliers as soon as possible if you are having difficulty in meeting bills.
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