Protecting the Elderly From Hazardous Chemicals

By Chris Williams on March 28, 2014.

Senior citizens around hazardous-chemicalsQuestion

I just read your blog about how to prevent accidental poisoning in your home. Great tips for keeping pesticides and other chemicals away from kids, but no one ever mentions taking care to protect elders. I’m taking care of my mother who has dementia and I have to take steps to keep her from getting into cabinets and putting stuff into her mouth.


You are so right. Practically everything you read tells how to protect children, and even pets, from accidental poisoning but rarely do you see mention of how to protect the elderly mentally infirm who may no longer have the ability to recognize dangers.

In a situation like yours, you need to start with the same precautions you would take if there were a small child in the home. But then you have to modify those safety precautions according to your situation and the individual. For example, simply storing hazardous materials up high won’t deter an adult who can reach them. A child-proof cap may not keep an adult out of containers or medicine bottles either. Locking up hazardous chemicals in an outdoor shed or garage cabinet may be the best option.

Pesticide Use Around the Elderly Requires Precautions

In our business, we understand that there are also medical concerns when using pesticides around seniors, and we take appropriate precautions. Seniors can be more susceptible to the effects of pesticide use than younger individuals because of respiratory problems, drug interactions, or depressed immune systems. We evaluate each situation. Whenever possible, when elderly people are in residence, we use non-pesticide control measures such as traps and vacuuming. If pesticides are needed, nonvolatile products like baits are our first choice.

Seniors may not be able to prepare their homes for treatment if required. Some pests, such as bed bugs, are difficult to control without pesticides. In these cases, we work with family, caregivers, or property managers to make arrangements to have the individual removed from the premises during treatment.

Photo credit: Free Grunge Textures – / Foter / CC BY

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