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Safety Starts at Home

Nov 3, 2021

One of the most noticeable effects of this pandemic for all Canadians has been more time spent at home. For seniors, the woes of long-term care homes have been well documented. But what of those who have lived in their own homes and continue to do so? It’s a sad truth that home can be dangerous for seniors, whose bodies continue to change as they age.

National Senior Safety Week is November 6 – 12 and the Canada Safety Council is providing tips on how to help the seniors in your life live in a safer home environment.

“Falls are the number one cause of injury hospitalizations for seniors over the age of 65,” said Gareth Jones, President and CEO of the Canada Safety Council. “These can happen anywhere, at any time. Home is meant to be a safe place, and for seniors a place where they can live safely, comfortably and without fear.”

The top five causes of injury hospitalizations, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, are: falls, vehicle collisions, accidental poisoning, attempted suicide and self-injury, and ‘collided with or hit by people or objects.’

Here are some preventative measures you can put in place to reduce the odds of a loved one getting injured at home.

Install grab bars and handrails. In 2017-18, 137,568 seniors were hospitalized due to injury, with a staggering 81 per cent being due to falls. This makes it crucial that we are focusing on areas where a senior may face heightened fall risks. In the bathroom, install grab bars near the toilet and bath to help with stability. These should be appropriately anchored to the wall and installed snugly. Along staircases, install solid handrails for the same reason.

Non-slip surfaces will also help. In the bathroom, the tub or shower should be textured and designed not to slip. In living spaces, avoid any décor that could also pose a tripping hazard. This can include rugs, scatter mats and anything that may obstruct pathways. And if the kitchen floor is waxed, make sure you’re using the non-skid variety to provide more sure footing. It can also be useful to wear a set of running shoes at home, as these will provide more traction than socks or bare skin.

Clear clutter. This can include loose wires and cords, furniture, garbage, and anything that isn’t put away. When an object is not where we expect it to be, it can and generally does catch us by surprise. Clear away the clutter and keep paths clear — especially those you use regularly, like the path from the bedroom to the bathroom.

Maintain good lighting. This applies especially to problem areas like stairs but is a good rule of thumb for the house as a whole. As seniors age, their eyesight is often one of the first things to fade, making it important to ensure proper visibility. This will help avoid accidental collisions with objects and your loved ones’ misjudgement of the space around them.

For more details and information, including advice on safe footwear and medication management you can also consult our previous Senior Safety Week campaigns or the Public Health Agency of Canada’s tipsheet on preventing falls.

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For more information, please contact:
Lewis Smith
Manager, National Projects, Canada Safety Council