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Safety Begins at Home

Monthly Archives: August 2018

Safety Begins at Home

Bathroom safety handle

What’s the one of the things seniors value most? Their independence.

Oscar lives in the house he built 55 years ago, and he fully intends to stay there the rest of his life. He’s proud of the home he’s carefully tended all these years. With health care aides and his family helping him to support his changing needs, there’s no reason to doubt that he can “age in place” in a place he knows well, among his neighbors and friends.

But he knows that even with his regular exercise and healthy diet, he is less sure on his feet and not as strong as he was only a year ago. He has difficulty getting out of his chair sometimes, and worries when he goes down stairs. The other day he stumbled when his walker got tangled in an extension cord and he knows that he had a close call. It’s time to add some assistive equipment and make safety improvements in and around his property.


Top priority: preventing a fall.

The most common accident that older people have is a fall. Some medications can interfere with balance and others can make bleeding a dangerous hazard, and of course, osteoporosis can make a broken bone a very serious danger to life and health.

The good news is that the risk of falling can be greatly reduced with simple preventive steps and low-tech home improvements. It takes attention to detail to assess all the dangers and make the environment as safe as can be, so let’s start with the most common safety measures and move on to the less obvious hazards and their prevention.

  • Get a grip on safety rails and banisters: Most people think about the bathroom and install grab bars in the bath and near the toilet and sink. But it’s also important to have sturdy railings in the bedroom near the bed and dresser, along hallways, and in the kitchen around appliances and the sink. But don’t assume that existing banisters in the home are sturdy enough to support someone’s full weight—check them and be sure they are strong enough to prevent an accident.
  • Throw rugs…throw them out! They are a much bigger risk than most people realize. The edges of throw rugs and area rugs can catch the feet of canes and walkers, cause a stumble, or they can slide out from underfoot. If discarding them is not an option, tape them securely to the floor—heavy-duty Velcro works very well. Under no circumstances should throw rugs be at the top or bottom of stairs. Bath mats—who thinks of bath mats? But they can be particularly dangerous because of the slippery, wet surfaces they’re used on. Make sure they are thin, absorbent, and securely fastened in place.
  • Bust clutter before it busts you. Extension cords, TV and internet cables, oxygen equipment hoses, shoes, and other things that already lying on the floor are easy enough to spot and take care of. But what about things that aren’t on the floor…yet? Watch out for overloaded coffee tables and bookshelves, or any other piles of belongings that can spill their contents onto the floor and create an unexpected trip-and-fall hazard. This can be a challenge in a home full of a lifetime of possessions, but reducing hazards around high-traffic areas can make a crucial difference in safety.

That’s all for this month! We’ll have more safety tips soon.


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