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Keeping Safe with Safety Aids
Many of the products on the market today
can make your life easier, more enjoyable and safer. Many are not very
expensive, and some would make nice gifts. These products can be found
in hardware stores, pharmacies, medical supply stores, mail-order
catalogues and other specialty stores. Also look in the yellow pages
under "Senior Citizens' Services and Centres," "Hospital Equipment and
Supplies" and "Medical Supplies."
can be a handy aid for walking, and these days they come in some
fashionable styles too. It's very important to make sure your cane is
the right height and that the rubber tips are checked every once in
awhile to ensure they are still in good shape. Wrist straps can be
attached to your cane to prevent dropping. A clip can be put on the
cane so that it will hang on the edge of a table or walker.
fit over the end of your cane for extra grip on an icy day. Spikes with
four or five prongs are best. Many spike attachments flip up or down as
needed. The spikes should be flipped up or taken off your cane when you
enter a store or shopping mall, as the spike can slip on floor surfaces.
are anti-skid detachable soles with studded treads that make walking
safer in the wintertime. The safest design is a full sole that runs the
entire length of the shoe. These have to be removed when walking
indoors, such as in a shopping mall, since they will slip on floor
Walkers – if walking for 20 minutes
without help is a problem for you, an inside or an outside walker could
be worth having. With a walker, you can go further, longer and, with
some models, you can even have a seat when you want to take a rest.
Many models also come with a basket for carrying packages. Special tote
bags, trays, and cane and oxygen holders that attach to the walker can
also be purchased.
Appropriate footwear –
comfortable shoes that provide good support can help to prevent falls.
Lower heels are easier on your feet and back, and are more stable for
walking. Elastic laces are available to make laced shoes easier to get
on and off. Beware: easy-on shoes or slippers (without heels) can be
dangerous; shoes with smooth, slippery soles can cause you to fall; and
composition soles, such as crepe soles, can stick to carpets and trip
can make bathtubs and showers less slippery. They have to be put down
while the tub is still dry. Bath mats on the floor beside the tub
should have rubberized or non-skid backing.
allow you to take a shower sitting down. If you have trouble standing,
or if you find it difficult to lower yourself into the tub, a bath seat
will help you. Some models are specially designed to make it easier to
get in and out of the tub.
Grab bars and poles
can be installed by the bathtub or shower and beside the toilet to
provide more stability and help prevent slips and falls. Grab bars must
be anchored firmly into the studs in the wall. Towel racks or soap
dishes should never be used for support! Floor to ceiling poles,
securely installed, can also help to steady you while getting out of
bed or while dressing.
Hand-held shower heads
can make showering easier, especially if you're using a bath seat. The
shower head can also be installed with two or three mounting positions,
allowing it to be used by standing or seated bathers. This type of
shower head is inexpensive, widely available and relatively easy to
Raised toilet seats can make getting on
and off the toilet easier. There are many designs available – some
adjustable, some portable and some with safety/hand rails.
An automatic shut-off
is featured on many appliances such as kettles, irons, electric frying
pans, toaster ovens and so on. The switch turns the appliance off once
it has been idle for a few minutes' time, eliminating the potential
risk of fire.
Large-handle utensils give you a better grip. So do L-shaped knives and heavy cutlery. Find out what's available for cooking and eating safely.
consist of a wire frame that keeps pots from spinning while you're
stirring the contents. Since this item holds the pot handle in place,
it can also prevent the cook or any children from accidentally knocking
the pot off the stove. Pot watchers are small ceramic
disks that are inserted in the pot to prevent boiling over. These can
be purchased in most kitchen gadget stores.
can keep you from harm. Don't risk your safety reaching for an item on
your top shelves. Get someone to reach for you or use a short
stepladder with a grab bar.
Reachers are very
useful for those who have trouble bending or reaching high places. Many
have suction cups, grips or magnets on the ends to ensure a firm grip
on the object to be reached.
are a number of technologies available to help you with vision loss,
from sunglasses to large playing cards, and from large pad touch-tone
phones to magnifying glasses. Vision rehabilitation clinics and a wide
range of assistive devices are available across the country in eye care
centres and through the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB).
people report significant benefits from hearing aids – in family
relationships, mental health and other areas that affect the quality of
their lives. Devices such as a hearing aid, a telephone handset with
built-in volume control, and a flashing light to signal when your
doorbell or telephone rings, can help to compensate for loss of
hearing. Keep in mind that choosing a hearing aid is a very individual
process and the right device for you depends on your preferences and
the nature of your hearing problem. Ask your family doctor about
regular hearing testing, and if required, consult a qualified hearing
health professional for the trial and purchase of a hearing aid.
are a number of ways to compensate for memory loss, such as writing
down information, using pictures to label contents on containers and
cupboards and putting your medications in pill organizers. Some
technologies are also available, such as talking clocks and vibrating
watches. Important factors in stabilizing memory with age are physical
activity, a healthy diet and social activities.
Cordless and cellular telephones
can be safer because the receiver can be separated from the telephone’s
base, eliminating the need to run telephone cords across a room or
across frequently travelled areas. It allows you to keep the phone
close at hand so you don’t have to run to answer it; you can sit in
your favourite chair while you talk.
Medication organizers (dosettes) are compartment boxes designed to help you keep track of medications. They're available in all drugstores.
enable you to tack down electrical and telephone cords along the walls
so they don't run across the floors, where they're more likely to cause
you to trip. You can find these clips at most hardware stores.
Emergency response systems
are communication devices that will get help for you in case of an
emergency. A variety of businesses and some non-profit organizations
are involved in this kind of service. The company will install the
device in your home for a minimal price, and then charge a monthly fee
to monitor the unit. You wear a wristwatch or pendant-type of device
with a call button, which you press in case of an emergency. To find
out more about these devices, look in the Yellow Pages under "Medical
First aid kits can be a godsend when there's an emergency. Make up your own first aid kit or purchase one from a reputable provider.
Asking for help
One of your best aids is your own voice.
Don't hesitate to ask for help when you need it. Most people are
delighted to be of assistance and asking for help may well respond to
your neighbours' and friends' need to be useful and to enjoy your
company! All kinds of community and health services such as
Meals-on-wheels or home help are available. Asking for help is also a
way to keep safe by making your environment aware of your presence and
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