Making Senior Home Safety a Priority


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June is National Safety Month and a great time to brush up on the dos and don’ts (do: keep hallways and stairwells free of clutter; don’t: lift heavy things above your head) that keep the entire household safe.

Since many people tend to have more time to visit with their senior loved ones during the summer, it’s also a good reminder to conduct your annual home safety check of your senior’s home. Annual, you ask?

Yes, as a matter of fact, in a recent survey of ER doctors, 100% of them said it’s very important for adult children to take one day each year to perform a safety check of their aging parents’ homes and that 48% of home accidents experienced by seniors are avoidable.

The needs and abilities of seniors can change fast. Keeping up with modifications that make their homes safer could be the difference between them continuing to be able to live at home or having to move into a care facility.

Common home safety concerns for seniors are:

• Tripping hazards

• Bathrooms without assistive equipment

• Storage too high or too low

Some simple and relatively inexpensive modifications include:

  • Replacing wall-mount shower heads with handheld shower heads on a hose. This allows seniors to stand or sit in place in the shower, rather than moving their feet to reach every part of their body, which increases the risk of falling. A senior can use the device as a fixed shower head – adjustable to the proper height – or convert it to a handheld one.
  • Installing grab bars on the wall near the shower or tub. Getting seniors accustomed to using these, as opposed to the shower curtain or the towel bar for support, will decrease their risk of falls in the shower when they lose their balance or become unsteady on their feet.
  • Converting to lever handle faucets: This is especially helpful for seniors with arthritis. It makes it much easier for them to control their water temperature and pressure.
  • Adding lighting to closets, hallways, stairs and pantries. Good lighting not only helps prevent falls, it allows a senior to better adjust to a new space so that they can more easily identify anything out of place.
  • Adding swing clear hinges. Narrow doorways could be difficult for walkers and wheelchairs to navigate. Replacing standard hinges with “swing clear hinges” allows the door to swing completely clear of the door opening, adding an extra 1.5 to 2” of clearance without widening the doorway.

There are many more ways to help ensure your senior is safe at home. At Home Instead Senior Care serving Central Oregon, we have recently launched the Making Home Safer for Seniors program, which includes lots of free resources, including an interactive Home Safety Guide, a downloadable Home Safety Checklist and a dedicated website to help with this process.

 


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