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Senior Safety

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Senior Safety

Senior Safety

Seniors often have special needs and concerns to cope with, particularly those who desire to age in place. Whether an aging loved one lives with your family or in their own home, it’s important to have certain safety features in place to protect them physically and financially. Here is a short guide to essential senior safety products and services to give the entire family greater peace of mind.

Medical Alert Systems

These potentially life-saving tools are as easy to activate as pressing a button, making a vocal request, and most of the best medical alert systems can automatically detect when a user has fallen if they are wearing a connected device. Often called personal emergency response systems, they typically feature panic buttons on walls, wearable devices, and home speaker connectivity that allows users to communicate with dispatchers. Medical alert systems are typically connected to a 24/7 monitoring company that provides immediate responses when emergency or medical personnel are required. They are ideal for older adults who have mobility issues, suffer from a chronic health condition, or are home alone frequently.

Shower Chairs or Transfer Benches

Remaining balanced in the shower is essential, which is what makes shower or transfer benches an essential component for senior safety in the home. Shower benches allow one to sit comfortably while bathing, and they are designed for ease of use and stability. Many come with height adjustment features and foldable armrests or those that can be adjusted via suction cups to accommodate multiple users. It’s important to keep a few factors in mind when considering transfer benches for showers. Weight capacity for standard chairs often caps out at 250 pounds. Also, it’s essential to buy a chair or bench with measurements that will fit within the shower area.

High Seated Commodes

Also known as ‘Comfort Height’ toilets, these commodes are typically three to five inches higher than standard models. These can be installed as a DIY project or one can call a plumbing professional. However, raising the toilet height can be as simple as investing in a thicker toilet seat. Either method used, elevating the commodes’ height will make it easier for seniors to get on and off the seat safely.

Safety Grab Bars

Grab bars within the bathroom and the presence of strategically placed safety rails throughout the home can make a huge difference in the safety and comfort of a senior choosing to age in place. Grab bars around the toilet area provide additional leverage and can assist in getting up and down from the seat and they can be invaluable for those with mobility concerns. There are two main categories of such bars: those that attach to the toilet via a free-standing frame and individual bars attached to walls surrounding the toilet. Within the shower or tub stall, it’s recommended to have one long horizontal grab bar along the longest wall and vertical grab bars installed on other walls for rectangular shower/tub combinations. However, for cubicle or custom-designed walk-in showers, horizontal bars should be placed on all sides of the surround for maximum security. Regardless of design, do install a vertical handle near the showerhead, and even consider horizontal grab bars for extra safety in case a fall occurs, as this can help them get back on their feet much easier.

Safety Handrails in the Home

Seniors desiring to remain in their home safely as long as possible will want to consider installing handrails in certain potential ‘danger zones’ throughout the home. For starters, ease entering homes with stairs leading to access doors by installing a handrail along both sides of the stairwell. Of course, installing handrails along both sidewalls of indoor stairs as well is highly recommended. Long hallways are another place to consider installing handrails to prevent wall damage and falls while traversing the home.

Stair Lift Devices for the Home

A leading reason why many aging individuals feel pressured to leave their home and downsize to a flat or even a senior living facility is due to issues navigating a multi-storied home. This can be a particular concern of those who rely on the use of wheelchairs. However, stair lifts offer a reliable solution and greater comfort for seniors with mobility issues. These devices simply require one to push a button to be elevated to the next floor level, and there are options for wheelchair accessibility or those with a built-in seat. What are known as stair climbers are the top choice for wheelchair use, and most models of stairlift devices can work with curved, angled, or straight stairs. These devices can also be purchased for outdoor use to improve access to the home itself.

Adjustable Beds and Bed Railings

While they still function similarly to the models you see in hospital and clinical settings, adjustable beds have come a long way and are now common in home bedrooms. They are particularly popular with seniors because adjustable beds allow various areas of the unit to be raised and lowered to suit comfort. The ability to elevate the head, knees and feet can provide relief for a number of common ailments including:

  • Alleviating back and body pains

  • Improving digestion

  • Reducing acid reflux and heartburn

  • Alleviating snoring, and sleep apnea

  • Enhancing circulation

  • Easing swelling

  • Relieving symptoms of arthritis and other degenerative conditions

Additionally, adjustable beds and frames are ideal for those with mobility issues, as these beds can make it easier to get in and out of bed safely, especially with the incorporation of hand rails. Again, these are similar to bed rails attached to hospital beds and come in an array of lengths and sizes. Most will retract or fold down to give one more space when rails aren’t needed.

Mobility Devices for Seniors

Mobility devices range from walking canes and walkers to sophisticated wheelchairs and electric scooters. Walkers and canes are ideal for those who are recovering from an injury or simply need a bit of additional stability when moving around to prevent falls. These implements also help alleviate pressure on the hips and knees, making them exceptional mobility devices for arthritis or degenerative joint disease sufferers. The top option for seniors needing walkers are three-wheeled walkers known as rollators. These easily fold in half and typically are equipped with a basket and a hand brake for convenience. Four-wheeled walkers have similar features but also have a built-in seat. Electric scooters and wheelchairs can meet the needs of older adults who have limited upper body strength that is required to use walkers, canes, or traditional wheelchairs and are a necessity for those who cannot walk. The primary difference between scooters and electric wheelchairs involves maneuverability. Wheelchairs often are easy to move about in amid the home due to their smaller size and turning radius requirements. However, for those with serious mobility issues, having both an electric wheelchair for use at home and a scooter for outings or moving around outside may be recommended. Most insurance policies will cover a certain amount of the cost for these devices when prescribed by a physician.

Wheelchair Accessible Ramps

Ramps leading to home entryways are a good idea regardless of the resident’s age, as an injury can happen at any time to anyone and ensuring access is just smart planning. Furthermore, wheelchair ramps are a valuable asset for wheelchair and scooter users who want to enjoy more freedom and independence in their lives. As an additional consideration, ramps serve an invaluable function during medical emergencies when personnel need to enter and exit the home quickly with rescue and transport equipment.

With more than 40 years experience in durable medical equipment, Home Medical Resources' staff at CCH is committed to helping people live better lives by offering the best medical technology, supplies and service. Home Medical Resources also provides pickup and delivery service for most medical equipment. We take the time to ensure that when your equipment arrives a staff member is available to assist with set-up, education and adjusting to the equipment. Contact us today at 307.688.6260 for more information.

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  • Category: Home Medical Resources