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Safety in the home


Safety in the home is just as big a concern for “senior citizens” as it is for families with small children.

Or at least it should be, says Dr Piet Botha, chairman of the Nationlink estate agency group, who notes that an increasing number of retirees live with family or on their own in homes that are not specifically designed for seniors.

“People are of course living longer these days - and everyone values their independence - but even highly active and healthy retirees need to take precautions to avoid household accidents and minimize the risk of injury. They should also prepare for at least some loss of mobility and dexterity as they get older, and go through their home room-by-room to identify and address potential problems.”

Starting right at the front door, for example, they should check if the key turns easily, or if they have to struggle to open it, particularly with an armload of shopping. Is the lock secure, and is there a peephole to view visitors before opening the door? Is a security gate necessary?"

And if there is an alarm system, the delay period before the siren goes off should allow sufficient time for older, less-mobile members of the household to reach the control panel.

Botha says other safety aspects to consider include:

  • Clear and unobstructed passages and walkways
  • Furniture of a comfortable height to allow even old folk to rise easily
  • Windows that are easy to open and close securely
  • Electrical appliance leads that are safely out of the way
  • Easy access to a telephone in both the living area and bedroom; and
  • Non-slip backing on loose rugs and mats