For years now, we have been using the transition in and out of Daylight Savings Time as a reminder to check smoke detectors. We can do more. For the friends and family helping seniors age-in-place, consider using this as an opportunity to do a comprehensive safety check of the home. Falls by the elderly account for 3 million Emergency Room visits each year, with 800,000 requiring hospitalization. Some things to examine:
- Bathrooms - Most in-home falls occur in the bathroom. Age Safe America began a “Grab Bars are the New Seatbelts” campaign. Grab bars can be purchased at hardware stores and installed by do-it-yourselfers or handymen. Towel racks are not a substitute for properly installed and positioned grab bars. Non-slip pads for in the shower and the bathroom floor are available in most hardware stores. Shower chairs and handheld wands add safety (and luxury) to showers and bathtubs.
- Living Rooms - Area rugs, electrical cords, low tables, and ottomans are all trip hazards for seniors living at home. Removing clutter from common pathways, taping down or moving area rugs, and rearranging furniture to widen walkways can make a big difference. Remember, your loved ones may need more room if they are using canes or walkers.
- Stairways – Is the lighting sufficient? Changing bulbs may be enough to improve safely. Are there runners on the stairs? Check to see if they are secure. Consider adding a runner or treads on the stairs if they are bare. Are the handrails secure and sturdy?
- Thresholds - Raised flooring between rooms can be a significant trip hazard. Ask a safety expert about flattening thresholds or adding indoor ramps or handrails.
- Seating – Additional seating, like a bench near the front door for putting on shoes, can help keep seniors safe at home. Kitchen stools may make it easier for seniors to perform activities of daily living.
These are just a few suggestions. At Homewatch CareGivers of New Haven, we help seniors stay safely at home. Quality Homecare includes proper care for the home, not just providing care in the home. We are happy to meet with you to provide a free home inspection. We work with several local companies that can assist you and your family with any home safety needs.