I partnered with Anthem, Inc. and its affiliated Medicare plans, which provided health information for this post – How to Make Your Home Safe for Older Loved Ones!
How to Make Your Home Safe for Older Loved Ones!
Many of my friends find themselves caretakers of older loved ones. There are special considerations to think about, especially if you also have young children in the home. Since May is recognized as Older Americans Month by the AOA (Administration on Aging), we have partnered with Anthem to raise awareness on safety issues affecting older Americans in the home. To celebrate, I wanted to share some tips on How to Make Your Home Safe for Older Loved Ones!
As we get older, things like hearing, vision, and our sense of touch and smell tend to diminish. Bone density loss is also common, along with an array of other ailments that are commensurate with advancing age. Unfortunately, accidents in the home become more prevalent as well. Therefore, it is extremely important that we understand the most common accidents that occur along with the preventive means to keep us safe!
According to Anthem, “Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of non-fatal, trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults,” with direct medical costs in the tens of billions of dollars. “One in three adults over the age of 65 falls each year, but less than half talk to their health care provider about it. In 2013, 2.5 million non-fatal falls among older adults were treated in emergency rooms, and more than 734,000 of these were hospitalized.” According to Dr. Richard Frank, medical director for medicare products at Anthem, “with a little preventive action, falls can be prevented, along with the dire consequences that can sometimes accompany them.”
Easy Preventive Measures
Here is a list of preventive measures compiled by Anthem to reduce the likelihood of a fall:
- Arrange furniture so that there is plenty of room to walk around it.
- Ensure that all areas of the home have adequate lighting.
- Use non-slip matting and grab-rails in bathrooms (including showers and tubs), and consider raising toilet seats.
- Store kitchen items in cabinet fronts and avoid slippery waxes on floor. Use a kettle with a shut-off valve. Store sharp knives in a rack.
- Include handrails on stairways and remove all clutter. Make sure handrails are securely affixed.
- Limit the use of rugs due to trip hazard or firmly secure to the ground.
Things to Think About
Of course there are numerous other precautions that should be undertaken to Make Your Home Safe for Older Loved Ones. Some of these include:
- Keeping all medications in safety dispensers.
- Having upstairs and downstairs fire alarms in good working order and keep several fire extinguishers throughout the house.
- Having a modern home alarm system, a good watch dog, or both.
- Using door locks that can be opened from both sides.
- Making certain that mobile phones provide good reception even during storms, and that a 911 call indicates the house address in your location. Otherwise, have a hard-wired phone.
- Having HVAC system checked at least annually to ensure safety and proper cooling and heating capability.
Other thoughts that come to mind are:
- Consider an emergency transponder service such as ‘Life Alert’ if dealing with a chronic illness.
- Purchase a strong home generator, particularly if the residence is in an area prone to severe storms such as hurricanes in coastal regions. (I’ve had personal experience with this. My father in law’s home lost power for two weeks from a hurricane in 1996 and he needed a constant supply of oxygen due to emphysema.)
- Install a walk-in bathtub if needed and isn’t cost prohibitive.
- Consider installing a stair-lift if house is not single-level, is medically necessary, and is affordable.
I am sure that there are numerous other safety issues to be considered, but hopefully this article (including the great infographic from Anthem) will be beneficial to everyone who reads it. Whether you are the caretaker of an elderly parent(s) or just wanting to learn safety methods for your own benefit, I trust that you will benefit as much as I have from this educational journey with Anthem and finding out How to Make Your Home Safe for Older Loved Ones!