The household environment can contain many products and sources that may not be immediately recognizable as dangerous or even toxic. Those caring for aging parents or grandparents must understand the hazards and recognize products that can cause harm. This post contains some of the most common household items that pose a risk to seniors and how to reduce their risk and protect them
Household cleaners may make the home healthier, but unfortunately, they can pose a health hazard if not correctly used. The most common (toxic) ingredients found in household cleaning products include:
If any of these products come into contact with the skin or eyes, they can result in irritation or even severe burns due to their caustic nature. If two different cleaning products are mixed together, it could cause the creation of hazardous gases. This is especially dangerous in enclosed spaces such as a bathroom. Ensure all cleaners are used according to their instructions at minimal contact with skin.
Insecticides and pesticides are commonly found in homes, particularly houses with gardens or extensive landscaping. Those ingredients are intended to kill off insects through contact or ingestion. Unfortunately, these products can contain an assortment of hazardous neurotoxins such as organophosphates and pyrethrin. If inhaled or ingested, such substances may be incredibly detrimental to a senior's health. Extensive exposure carries potentially lethal consequences. Look for alternative, non-toxic pesticides or keep these products in a locked storage area.
Air fresheners can be attractive additions to any room in the house, but they pose serious health hazards. Some air freshener products contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These can cause irritation and damage respiratory systems when inhaled. Some air fresheners also feature high concentrations of PVP, a substance that can result in chemical burns if contact occurs with the skin or eyes. Use natural perfumes like essential oils to avoid these harmful toxins.
Paints and solvents are also commonly found within homes due to various DIY activities. These products may contain carcinogens such as benzene and hazardous chemicals linked to neurological damage or hepatic deterioration. Exposure could cause serious adverse effects for seniors. Read the labels carefully and opt for less toxic alternatives, like water-based paints.
Many over-the-counter products and even prescription drugs may feature mild or severe side effects. If multiple medications are taken together, their general potency may be increased. Mixing medication can cause hypertension, heart palpitations, or dehydration. Anyone caring for a senior should know exactly what drugs have been prescribed and help monitor usage.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas that can be generated by any heating or combustion process. This substance has been known to cause side effects like:
- Numbness of limbs
- Mental confusion
These side effects can be hazardous for aging individuals who may have difficulty recognizing the symptoms. It regularly goes unnoticed due to its lack of scent (which makes it much harder to detect). Install carbon monoxide detectors in the home to lower the chances of exposure.
Venomous pests such as bees, wasps, and spiders can seriously threaten seniors. While most stings are unlikely to cause substantial injury, there is a chance for more lethal consequences whenever a vulnerable person comes into contact with dangerous insects. Homes in the area should take protective measures, such as securing screens on doors and windows. You'll also want bee and wasp nests promptly removed by qualified professionals.
Alcohol consumption may also place elderly persons at risk. Alcohol can cause:
- Impaired judgment
As an added complication, many prescription medications may negatively react to alcohol. Seniors never mix their medicine with any alcoholic beverage. Even occasional indulging can result in unpleasant consequences that are best avoided altogether.
Need Help Creating a Safe Environment in a Senior Home?
Caregivers of seniors should be aware of everyday household items that can cause harm. Senior Helpers Jacksonville provides quality service for homes and residential communities throughout the Jacksonville, Jacksonville Beaches, Arlington, Ft. Caroline, San Marco, Southside, Mandarin, Fernandina Beach, Ponte, Vedra, and Yulee areas. We allow family members living far away to ensure loved ones are well taken cared for at home. Call us today and learn how we can help put your mind at ease!