Senior centers are essential to the senior community’s ability to thrive and enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle. These centers provide many recreational activities, events, and classes for the enjoyment of its senior members. Many senior centers are either government funded by the city or state, or locally funded by the public. In many cases, facilities are optimized to suit senior needs and disabilities. However, caregivers and family members of seniors should still be aware of how a senior center is managed and maintained. Lapses in maintenance, negligence, and even elder abuse is still common. Here are a few things to be aware when it comes to senior safety in senior centers and facilities.
1. Are the grounds clean and regularly maintained?
One important element to check in a senior center is cleanliness. Seniors are prone to illnesses because of weaker immune systems, and during flu season it is very important to maintain germ-free zones. If your loved one spends time at a local senior center, be on the lookout for how often the center is cleaned. Is there a janitorial staff that comes every day? Or is it a sporadic occasion? One should be careful of any mold or mildew in showers or bathrooms at the facility. You want to be in a center that sanitizes the facility often, especially if it is a community center that hosts other age groups such as adults, teens, and children. Check the bathrooms to see if they’re clean and note if there are hand sanitizing stations around the facility. The center’s staff should also be taking measures to maintain cleanliness as well as sanitary habits to ensure a senior’s health.
2. Are there handrails and wheelchair ramps?
Also note if the facility has handrails and ramps for seniors who need support. There should be extra support in areas where seniors may have difficulty climbing stairs or going up a ramp. The ramps need to be suitable for seniors in wheelchairs or for those who are disabled. Senior centers often have handrails and ramps installed already, but it’s important for caregivers to make sure that they are in the right areas where they are easily accessible for your loved ones. Accessibility is important in order to prevent any falls or accidents on site. If you notice an area where you feel a senior will need more support (for example, in a bathroom stall or handicapped zone) notify your senior center about this safety issue.
3. Are the Staff Polite and Attentive?
It’s also important to notice if the senior center staff are kind and attentive to your loved one. It’s a red flag if you start to notice signs of mistreatment, rude behavior, and clear indications of abuse. Ask other seniors and caregivers how their experiences have been at the center and if they enjoy the staff. Talk to staff members and ask them questions about their experiences in helping seniors. If it seems like the staff are less than agreeable when it comes to serving the senior community, be cautious of the center. It’s better to be safe than sorry later on should you find that a staff member was mistreating your loved one.
4 .Look For Clear Walkways
It it essential for a senior center to maintain clear walkways out of safety for senior members. Accidental falls are likely when sticky floors, puddles, old carpeting, and obstructive furniture is present. Seniors can break a hip, shatter their pelvis, or worse should they suffer from a bad fall, so it’s imperative that the center is well-kept to maintain a clear walkway. Look for signs of wet floors, uneven carpeting, and pieces of furniture that may hinder safe mobility for a senior. These should be brought to the staff’s attention as soon as possible so there will be no risk for dangerous accidents.
5. Food Safety
Food-borne illness is another danger zone for seniors because of weakened immune systems. Although it’s hard to detect food-borne pathogens, those who are preparing foods for senior centers need to take sanitary measures in order guard the health of a senior. If your senior center serves lunches, caregivers need to be mindful of staff practices. Those who are preparing these foods must be taking measures to wash their hands, using gloves, using hair nets, and being careful to properly wash and clean produce. Food poisoning is a serious hazard for a senior’s health so it must be actively prevented.