Most of us are spending a lot of time at home now, due to COVID.
We are staying home to avoid getting sick. Very likely, we have not only avoided COVID, but avoided many other minor or major illnesses by not being exposed to other people. Spending time at home should give us time to consider ways to make our own home healthier. Here are some suggestions.
Since accidental injuries are common in seniors, we should consider the home environment. Are the lights inside bright enough? Are there railings on all steps or stairs? Are the rugs flat on the floor and unlikely to trip us? These are easy problems to fix. It is important to have railings, but we must conscientiously use them. Always start up or down a stairway with one hand free, loosely holding the railing. Do not leave items on the steps to trip over.
Safety in the kitchen: Have you ever left a pot in the kitchen to boil and walked away? We have all done that. It takes a conscious effort avoid this dangerous situation. Set a timer and carry it with you, if you leave the kitchen. In the kitchen, work out a system that will prevent leaving the stove or oven on after you are finished cooking. Kitchen fires can involve oil and can easily get out of hand. Check your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms regularly. Be very careful with knives and replace them in a safe place after using them.
Leave some lights on, day and night. As you get around your own house. It is easy to be distracted and stumble over something. Good lighting will help you. Also, if you need glasses, make sure you wear them in your own house.
Nothing is healthier than getting out with your dog. The dog sets a schedule for several trips a day. Carry a bright flashlight at night and stay out of the street. Watch for slippery spots, at all times. Wear shoes that will be safe in snow or rain. Pay close attention to the dog and leash, so it does not wrap around your legs. If the weather is dangerous, try to get a young relative to walk the dog for you.
Even in the house, you should wear shoes that tie. Sloppy shoes or slippers or bare feet can lead to slipping and we all know that household injuries can be devastating.
This is the perfect opportunity to clear clutter out of your house. Newspapers and magazines are meant to be read and discarded. Teetering piles of reading material should be cleared out.
Cut back or discontinue sleeping pills and sedatives. These medications may make you unsteady. Often older people do not need these medications regularly. Check with your doctor if you feel you should cut back slowly, but aim for getting off of these medications if you can.
Cut back or stop drinking alcohol. Seriously consider its effect. Alcohol may make you clumsy, and you may have poor judgment about safety when you are under the influence. It does not cause people to have a good night’s sleep.
It is strange to be in our home all day, every day. We should take the opportunity to spruce it up. If nothing else, getting rid of clutter will cheer us up. Many of the tips above can save a trip to the Emergency Room.