SAFETY TIPS FOR SENIORS
As we start a new year let’s put things in order. We all heard the phrase “New year, New you.” Within this article are helpful tips to help organize your home with safety in mind. Picking a set time each year helps with consistency and that helps make it easier for you to remember, which can be difficult for seniors as they age in their homes. A Caregiver or Companion can help with these tasks. As an Amethyst Home Care client, we will take the responsibility to remind you and your Caregiver critical safety tasks, but if you don’t utilize home care services it’s imperative to do it yourself.
Here are 6 home safety tips to make seniors in Horry County (Myrtle Beach) safer at home:
1) CHECK EXPIRED FOOD DATES IN THE PANTRY & REFRIGERATOR
This helps prevent eating spoiled foods. While mold in an aged French blue cheese may be desirable, many perishable foods consumed past their prime may cause illness in vulnerable populations like seniors, those with an illness, and small children.
Carmen Castellano, co-founder of Amethyst Home Care, says, “When checking on the safety of foods for seniors, trust your senses – eyes, taste buds, and sense of smell. Spoiled food will look very different in texture, and color and may have a bad smell.”
Use the free USDA app, FoodKeeper, which will help you determine when foods in your pantry should be eaten or how long perishable foods may last in your refrigerator once opened.
According to the USDA, most canned foods – tuna, soups, and vegetables – can be stored for 2-5 years, and foods high in acid – canned juices, tomatoes, pickles – can be stored for 12-18 months. Watch out for dents and bulges at the top or bottom of a can, which means it may be tainted by toxic bacteria that can make you sick and you need to throw it out.
2) CHANGE BATTERIES IN SMOKE DETECTORS AND CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS
Remember to change the batteries on your home smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. This tip may be the most important because the detectors can prevent a very dangerous situation, especially for those seniors home alone, who may not be able to get out of the house quickly. If you have an emergency like this, you should immediately call 9-1-1, the fire department, and/or the gas company.
3) CHANGE ON TIMERS CONNECTED TO LAMPS AND OUTSIDE LIGHTS
Now is a good time to suggest “smart home” products. These products can be set to automatically turn on/off according to the amount of day light. That way you take advantage of the safety that timed lights provide, while not having to micro manage them on an ongoing basis. If you are interested in learning more about smart home technologies, you can visit the Smarthome Superstore website where you can find plenty of ideas. And check back with us in a few weeks. We are working on a comprehensive smart home guide.
4) CHANGE THE FLASHLIGHT BATTERIES IN THE HOME AND CAR
It is important to keep a few flashlights in the home, which can be accessed easily in the case of a power outage. If you have one in the main bedroom, kitchen, and garage you can store them away discreetly while being able to access them easily. You should also keep a flashlight in your glove compartment or trunk for emergencies. It is also a good idea to store the flashlight in your car with extra batteries (i.e. keep both in a zip lock bag or another container) because this would be the one you most likely forget.
5) CHECK ALL MEDICATIONS, VITAMINS, AND SUPPLEMENTS FOR EXPIRATION DATES
Throw out all over-the-counter and prescribed medicines with an expiration date that has passed. Check to make sure the medicine can be thrown away in a regular garbage pickup or flushed. If not, check with your pharmacy on how to dispose of it properly.
6) UPDATE YOUR MEDICATION LIST AND EMERGENCY CONTACT INFORMATION
It is essential to have an up-to-date and accurate list of your loved one’s medications they are taking. It only takes a few moments to do and may help healthcare workers treat someone in the event of an emergency. For instance, Amethyst Home Care gives each of its clients a binder that includes the Emergency Contact info, Medication List, Plan of Care, etc, which they often take to Doctors’ appointments or use in emergency situations at home.
It may be time to consider engaging in a home care agency, which can provide you with a Caregiver to ensure safety and peace of mind. Give Amethyst Home Care a call @ (800) 476-7059 if you live around Grand Dunes, Pawleys Island, or Litchfield, within Horry County, and would like to meet with one of our RNs. If you would like a more comprehensive home safety assessment, you can also call us and one of our Care Coordinators will find the right partner with which to connect you.