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Home safety, Is your home safety a concern? Each year, one in every three adults age 65 and older falls. Falls can cause moderate to severe injuries, such as hip fractures and head traumas. This can increase the risk of early death. Fortunately, falls are a public health problem that is largely preventable.
- More than half of all falls occur in the home.
- Falls are the leading cause of death by accidental injury among people who are older than 65.
- A senior falls every 21 seconds. That is 1.5 million falls a year.
- Falls are the most common cause of hospital admissions for trauma among older Americans.
- Falls in the bathroom and stairs are responsible for more injuries than any other household area or product.
Here are some home safety tips:
Entrances and Exits: Access to your home should be easy, including clear walkways, sturdy handrails, and a minimal amount of steps. Even if your senior isn’t in a wheelchair or doesn’t use a walker, it’s a good idea to look into ramps, as these tend to be easier to navigate. (In the winter months, regular De-icing is a must.)
Stairs: Going up or down stairs can be difficult for seniors, especially if your home has especially steep or narrow steps. If possible, put your loved one’s bedroom on the main floor to avoid the need to navigate the stairs. You can also install better handrails or look into a lift.
Better Lights: More lighting is always better in a home with elderly residents—especially when it comes to nighttime. Improve your fixtures, install motion-sensor lighting, and keep a flashlight on the nightstand.
Reduced Clutter: Clutter—especially the kind that sits on the ground—is not only hazardous, but it tends to make our homes feel less clean. Now is a good time to change the way you store your everyday items. Keep all walkways clear, put toys and other debris away after each use, and reconsider furniture that might not be necessary.
Clear Walkways: Cords, rugs that aren’t securely laid down, pet paraphernalia, and spills can all contribute to falls. Non-slips strips should be used whenever possible, and carpets should always be secured to the floor.
Bathrooms are particularly tricky, especially if your relative has limited mobility. Grab bars and specialty tubs/showers with chairs can go a long way in making daily care easy.
Hot Water Controls: You may want to consider turning down your water heater to 120 degrees or lower. This will prevent accidental scalds and also reduce your overall heating bill, which can be a big bonus during the winter months. You should also cover any exposed hot water pipes that can be too hot to touch.
Fire Safety: Fire safety is always important, but now is a good time to step up your precautionary measures. Check the batteries in smoke alarms regularly, and make sure they’re present on every floor. Carbon monoxide detectors are also a good investment. You might also want to put in additional fire extinguishers.
Install a Monitor System: An intercom or monitor system can help when your home is large or a senior is bedridden for much of the day. Communication is made easier, whether it’s for daily needs or emergency situations.
Many of these changes cost less than a few hundred dollars, and can significantly improve your home safety. More expensive features can also be well worth the investment, especially when compared to the costs of assisted living facilities or full-time live in help.