Staying Safe At Home

It’s no surprise that most of us want to stay at home as we age and not move to some type of senior community. As many families can tell you, it only takes one accident to change living at home from reality into part of a senior’s past history.

Here are some statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One out of three adults age 65 and older falls each year. Among those age 65 and older, falls are the leading cause of injury death. They are also the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma.

Accustomed as we become to our familiar space, seniors may not see that there are maintenance and improvements needed to make their home safer. What used to be safe may no longer safe due to deferred maintenance or changing abilities.

As we age, we need to create opportunities to look at our home with fresh eyes. Bringing in a friend, family member or safety professional can provide the fresh perspective you need to keep your home safe.

Here are some commonly overlooked issues:

Not enough light
Our need for light increases as we age. Simple fixes are more lights in the house and higher wattage. Make sure dangerous transitions like stairs are well lit. Use night lights or turn on the light when headed to the bathroom. If turning on the light will disturb your partner, put a flashlight by your bedside.

Dangerous flooring
It’s easy to turn a blind eye to wear and tear at home. When it comes to flooring, this can be very dangerous. Now is the time to look for uneven transitions between flooring surfaces and get them fixed. Loose carpets and throw rugs are hazardous; it may be time to remove some rugs. Make sure that hard surfaces and stairs are not slick especially outside surfaces or kitchen and bathroom surfaces that can get wet.

Hand rails and grab bars
Inspect all the handrails that are currently installed at your home. Are they securely attached to the wall? Are the rails easily reachable not too high or too low for you and are there railings on both sides of the stairs?

In the bathroom, you should have grab bars in the shower and bathtub and also near the toilet. Remember that towel racks are not designed to hold your weight. Grab bars must be attached to wall studs. Deciding where to attach grab bars and installing them properly is a job best left to professionals. There are newer products that don’t look institutional. It’s important not to let pride get in the way of safety.

Beyond improving or repairing your home:
Get regular (at least annual) eye checkups to keep your vision in the best shape possible.
Exercise to stay strong. Review your medications with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure that they are not contributing to balance issues.
Use canes and walkers as prescribed by your doctor. Work with a physical therapist to learn how to best use these tools.

Don’t let “pride goeth before the fall”.

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