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Aging • Caregiving • Safety Home Safety Checks Can Be a Life Saver for Seniors

Home can be a comforting place to be for seniors, but it also can be unsafe. Did you know that more than 1 in 4 adults 65 and older fall each year – and those falls are the leading cause of fatal injuries, according to the National Council on Aging? Falls, burns and poisoning are the most common home injuries for seniors.

Tips to Make Your Home Safer

While falls can occur anywhere, they most often occur at home. Be sure to:

    • Clear your floor: Remove clutter, small furniture, pet gear, electrical cords, throw rugs and anything else that might cause someone to trip
    • Arrange or remove furniture so there is plenty of room for walking
    • Put essential items where they are easy to reach
    • Add grab bars inside and outside of your bathtub or shower and next to the toilet
    • Put railings on both sides of the stairs, and make sure stairs and hallways have good lighting
    • Make sure outdoor areas are well-lit and walkways are smooth and free of puddles and ice
    • Use a cane or walker if necessary

The aging process can affect vision, strength and balance, putting adults 65 and older at elevated risk for falls. However, falls are not a natural part of aging and can be prevented. You can identify simple steps that can make a big difference:

Keep emergency numbers handy, like posted to the refrigerator. Be sure to include numbers for:

    • 911
    • Poison Control: 1-800-222-1222
    • Family member or friend to call in case of emergency
    • Healthcare provider’s office

Why Should I Worry About Falls?

“Falls are the leading cause of injury-related emergency department visits and can be much more dangerous than they seem. They can lead to a lot of other health issues and create hard recovery processes for the elderly,” the National Council on Aging says. “Just by slightly adjusting the lifestyle and living situation of your loved ones, you can greatly reduce their risk of falling and avoid a tough recovery process.”

Every 20 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall, and many more are injured, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC data indicates:

    • More than one in four older adults falls every year; fewer than half tell their doctor
    • 3 million older adults are treated in emergency departments each year for fall injuries
    • More than 800,000 patients are hospitalized each year because of injuries due to a fall, most often because of a head injury or hip fracture

Do I Need a Home Safety Evaluation?

 Despite following best practices, seniors and families may have difficulty making their homes safer. In that case, it makes sense to hire outside help to do a home safety check.

The good news is that a Home Safety Check from a reputable home care agency can help detect hazards at home and make “home” a safer place to be. For example, it may no longer be possible for them to use the stove safely or walk up the stairs without extra help. A Home Safety Check will help you figure out the right modifications for your loved one.

HouseWorks can perform a free home inspection to make sure your environment is safe. Our experts will identify if any additional safety equipment or modifications are needed in the home.

During a Home Safety Check, experts on how to age safely at home will closely examine each room of the house, looking for hazards. They will complete list of personalized, itemized recommendations.

Some of our recommendations could include:

    • Rearranging furniture
    • Adding grab bars in the bathroom
    • Installing railings on both sides of the stairs
    • Taping rugs to the floors
    • Upgrading smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors
    • Installing more telephones or subscribing to an emergency alert service
    • Adding stair lifts, easy-access tubs, wheelchair ramps or elevators
    • Setting a limit on the water heater thermostat to prevent scalding
    • And, more