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National Safety Month:Raising awareness of home hazards for seniors

Stairwells should be well lit and have firm handrails.
Stairwells should be well lit and have firm handrails.
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The National Safety Council is asking thousands of organizations throughout the nation to help support public safety throughout June, especially Preventing prescription drug abuse (week 1); Stop slips, trips and falls (week 2), Be aware of your surroundings (week 3), and Summer safety (bonus week).

According to the CDC, "1 out of every 3 adults over the age of 65 falls annually, but most are reluctant to discuss the problem with anyone, including their doctors. As a result many not only suffer bodily injuries, there are emotional consequences causing them to severely limit their physical activities and personal interactions, leading to increased isolation and depression.

"A lot of seniors end up feeling increasingly helpless. In addition, when a fall does occur, the average hospital stay is almost twice as long for fall victims than other ailments, " states Sharon Roth Macguire, MS, RN, GNP-BC, chief quality-focused care provider for BrightStar Care.

As a result, BrightStar, a national homecare franchise with more than 250 locations across the US would like to emphasize the need for loved ones to make sure their elderly relatives and friends are well looked after by offering the following tips:

In addition to making sure all rugs and mats are secured to prevent tripping, they also recommend the use of non-slip bathmats in and around showers and tubs, as well as the installation of firm grab bars in them and around toilets.

Stairways should also be kept clear of any objects, and handrails should be sturdy.

Not only should there be a nightstand next to the bed with lamp and phone, but also adequate space for medicines. In addition, all electrical cords (including extension cords) should be kept out of the path of foot traffic, and not plugged into too many appliances.

Night lights are also recommended both in bedrooms and hallways for added safety.

Kitchens can often be the most hazardous rooms in any home. As a result, it is important to make sure that knives and other utensils are stored safely in racks, and that all "on and off" positions on appliances are clearly marked with bright colors. This includes hot and cold water faucets. Foods should be regularly checked for expiration dates and switched out as needed. In addition, caretakers need to be sure that elderly patients do not wear any loose or long-hanging clothing when cooking for themselves on stoves.

Other general safety tips include making sure doors have strong locks, bolted locks and a peephole; outside lights are in working order, the house has an adequate number of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and that garage doors operate easily.