Medical Alert SystemsThese 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.
Home Security SystemsSeniors choosing to remain in their own homes can easily become targets for thieves and other miscreants. Home security systems for seniors can help derail any efforts concerning home invasions and they can enjoy a greater sense of safety along with 24/7 monitoring contracts. Of particular value are home security systems that also offer options such as medical alert devices in conjunction with a contract.
Pro Tip: Home security systems are just one tool to protect you from becoming a victim of a crime. Head to our guide on crime prevention tips for seniors to learn more about staying safe at home and on the go.
Identity Theft ProtectionOlder adults are a primary target for identity thieves and scammers for a number of reasons. For starters, some seniors aren’t as tech-savvy as younger generations, making them vulnerable to online predators in particular. However, seniors also tend to be more trusting which also makes them more likely to fall for door-to-door and phone scams such as credit card fraud, robotic voice recording callers, prize schemes, health care scams, charity scams, and other scenarios. It is amazing how little personal information it takes to open credit accounts, obtain payday loans, and commit other acts of fraud.
Did You Know: Older adults are popular targets for several types of scams. Visit our guide on common scams that target seniors so you can learn how to protect yourself.
Walk-In Tubs and ShowersThe bathroom is one of the most dangerous rooms in the home, and seniors can minimize the risks of falling by investing in a walk-in tub or shower setup. Walk-in tubs differ from traditional ones in that they feature a large safety door that allows one to step into the tub without lifting their legs very high, which reduces falling risks. They are typically equipped with a molded seating bench and handrails inside the unit, and some models feature adjustable bubble jets. Curb-less showers are essentially set very low to the ground and are ideal for those who use wheelchairs or scooters for mobility and those who prefer showering over baths. Walk-in tubs can be somewhat pricey, while curb-less showers are generally more affordable.
Shower Chairs or Transfer BenchesRemaining 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 CommodesAlso 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 BarsGrab 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 HomeSeniors 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 HomeA 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 RailingsWhile 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 particular 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