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  • Karen McPhail, RN, MSN

Simple Steps to a Safer Home in the New Year!

As we grow older we want to maintain our health and minimize risks for injury. This is a constant balancing act in terms of decision making. Sometimes people are resistant to change and do not want to adapt their lifestyle or home environment. So, how do you have a home that you still love while providing for safety and minimizing risks?

1. Take note of more than just your basic surroundings, examine your daily habits and routines. How do you or your family members manage your lifestyle and tasks? People often continue to do things the same way over the years not realizing that common tasks present a risk for falls and injury. Think about the tasks that are performed daily and try to ensure that routines are still realistic for you and if not adapted to avoid risk.

2. Seniors ages 65 and older are at a higher risk for falls for a variety of reasons. Play it safe by focusing on the following:

  • Remove area rugs, especially with fringe as they can be a tripping hazard.

  • Inspect any flooring for cracks, sharp edges, loose boards, loose or rippling carpet, and arrange to have repaired / replaced. Watch for any exposed cords as they also present a tripping hazard.

  • Declutter and organize living spaces as less is more! More congestion means more chances for tripping and injury!

  • Wear nonslip footwear and proper fitting clothing! Long pants, socks without treads, and slippers without the backs all present a problem and can be a recipe for injury.

  • Widen pathways especially to bathrooms to avoid falls, skin tears, and tripping hazards. This is especially important if using a walker or cane.

  • Consider adaptive equipment such as a walker, cane, bedside commode, elevated toilet seat, grab bars, or hand rails if balance is a concern.

  • Put night lights in hallways and bathrooms. Ensure visibility!

  • Put items on lower shelves and within reach for easy access.

  • Encourage the use of a walk in shower if possible. Avoid stepping over and into a tub. Use non-slip shower treads and bathmats to avoid slipping.

3. Finally, work with your physician and /or a Aging Life Care specialist (GCM/ Care Advisor) closely to assess medications, vision, hearing, mobility, exercise regime, and overall health as these can all impact your safety. An Aging Life Care manager can help to assess, prioritize and perhaps even identify risks that have gone unnoticed. Many long term care insurance plans will cover care advisor services.

Take the time to make some simple changes, as you will thank yourself later!

#seniorsafety #geriatricsafety #safetyforseniors

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