Not all senior adults require assistance. Many live independently in their own homes or in senior adult apartments. Many others live in assisted living residences where they receive a small amount of assistance. If you are elderly and intend to live alone, some safety precautions may be necessary. Use the following checklist to increase your safety at home:
- Environmental concerns. It may be necessary to make changes to enhance the safety of your home, or to move into a smaller and safer environment. Surfaces such as tables and countertops may need to be lower to accommodate a wheelchair.
- Avoid falls. Falls are a common cause of injury for the elderly. To minimize falls, stairs may need to be equipped with ramps or lifts. The bathroom is another frequent place for falls. Make sure that you have skid-proof surfaces installed in the tub and on the floor.
- Access to emergency services. Make sure that you have access to a cell phone or have a call button so that you can reach someone if you become ill or fall. Call buttons have saved lives.
- Fire safety. Make sure that all fire alarms and smoke detectors in your residence are operational. Check and replace batteries regularly.
- Proper nutrition. If you live alone, it may be tempting to skip a meal or skimp on a meal. Do not do it. Often meal assistance programs (such as Meals on Wheels) are available to bring you nutritious meals and will cut back on your need to cook.
- Driving safety. Do not drive if you are not safely able to do so. A doctor can help you determine if your vision is good enough to operate a motor vehicle. There are many programs in place (such as Dial-a-Ride) for those seniors who cannot drive themselves. (Note: Dial-a-Ride programs are usually administered locally. Contact your local public transportation or bus service for additional information.)
- Eliminate medication errors. Hospitals admit hundreds who accidentally double up on doses or skip a dose. Use a compartmentalized container marked with the times of the day to make sure that you don't accidentally miss a dose or double up on a dose.
- Be wary of fraud. Never give in to someone who is pressuring you to make an immediate decision. Important decisions can nearly always wait a few days. Always check into offers that seem to be too good to be true.
- Stay connected. It is wise to have someone who checks on you several times a week. They don't need to come by in person; often a telephone call will be enough for them to know that you are okay and don't need help. Ministry groups and community centers are often happy to perform this service.
In conclusion, many senior adults are physically and mentally able to live alone. By taking a few simple precautions, they can increase their safety and remain independent for a longer period of time.