Maintaining Independence Igor Souza
Increasingly, older adults are choosing to age in the comfort of their own homes, where their surroundings are familiar and where they can foster their own independence. The following tips will help you prepare your loved one for “aging in place” in a safe environment.
However, every year in the United States, nearly one-third of people age-65+ experience a fall. Among these older adults, falls are the leading cause of injury deaths and the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma. More than half of all fall injuries among older people occur inside the home, and an additional 23 percent happen outside, but near the home.
10 steps to home safety
Many of these falls and injuries can be prevented by taking simple, inexpensive steps to eliminate or fix potential hazards.
Install handrails on both sides of all steps (indoors and out).
Secure all carpets and area rugs with double-sided tape or carpet mesh.
Install easy to grasp C- or-D-shaped handles for all drawers and cabinet doors.
Use brighter lightbulbs that don’t produce excessive glare.
Install night-lights in all areas of night activity.
Add reflective, non-slip tape on all non-carpeted stairs.
Install lever handles on all doors.
Place a bench near entrances for resting or setting down purchases.
Install closet lights, as well as adjustable, pull-down rods and shelves.
Install rocker-style light switches and consider illuminated ones in select areas.
Home safety checklists
Conducting a home safety check can go a long way in helping prevent problems that could lead to a fall, other injury or loss of independence. Answer the questions in each checklist and review the recommendations.
According to estimates by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), each year, nearly one million people over age 65 are treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries associated with the products they live with and use every day. The death rate from accidental injuries in the home is approximately three times greater for older people than for the younger population. Specifically, there are 60 deaths per 100,000 persons 65 and older, while there are 20 deaths per 100,000 persons under 65.
Slips and falls are the main cause of injury for older people in the home. The CPSC recommends the use of grab-bars and non-slip mats in the bathtub, handrails on both sides of the stairs, and slip-resistant carpets and rugs.
Burns occur from hot tap water and from open flame. The CPSC recommends that consumers turn down the temperature of their water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to help prevent scalds.
The CPSC also recommends the installation and maintenance of at least one smoke detector on every floor of the home. Older consumers should consider purchasing flame-resistant nightwear and choose garments made of tightly-woven fabrics, such as 100% polyester, 100% nylon or 100% wool.
Home Safety Checklist for Older Consumers
The CPSC believes that many of injuries to elderly persons in their homes result from hazards that are easy to overlook – but also easy to fix. By spotting these hazards and taking some simple steps to correct them, many injuries might be prevented. Use the CPSC’s Safety for Older Consumers – Home Safety Checklist to spot possible safety problems which may be present in your home. Keep this checklist as a reminder of safe practices, and use it periodically to re-check your home.