The saying, "there is no place like home," rings true for individuals of all ages, including older adults and the elderly. At Your Aging Therapist, we understand the importance of home safety for older adults and strive to provide valuable insights and recommendations. With over three-quarters of the United States population aged fifty and above expressing a desire to age in their own homes, it becomes crucial to ensure their safety and well-being. This blog explores the importance of home safety for older adults, common health problems they face, and effective modifications that can enhance their independence and reduce the risk of accidents.
Understanding Health Problems and Impairments: As we age, our health conditions may change, and older adults may experience sensory impairments such as impaired vision and hearing. These impairments, along with issues related to depth perception, increase the risk of falls (Edelman & Ficorelli, 2012). However, aging at home shouldn't be feared. Instead, it should inspire us to make necessary modifications to enhance safety and promote independence.
Decreasing Falls and Enhancing Independence: Falls are a significant concern for older adults. At Your Aging Therapist, we recommend the following strategies to reduce the risk of falls and improve independence:
Exercise: Engage in regular balance exercises to improve strength and stability.
Consult with Professionals: Discuss fall prevention strategies with occupational therapists or physical therapists who specialize in geriatric care.
Home Modifications: Make necessary changes to the home environment, such as adding grab bars, removing rugs, and rearranging furniture to provide sufficient walking space.
Addressing Common Accidents Besides Falls: In addition to falls, other accidents commonly occur at home, including burns and poisoning. Your Aging Therapist provides the following essential safety measures to consider:
Emergency Preparedness: Keep a list of emergency numbers by each phone for quick access during emergencies.
Fire Safety: Educate older adults to prioritize their safety by leaving the home immediately and calling 911 in the event of a fire.
Kitchen Safety: Avoid loose clothes or long sleeves while cooking and promptly address frayed or damaged cords of appliances.
Burns Prevention: Set the water heater thermostat no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit to reduce the risk of burns.
Home Security: Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms, ensuring they are tested regularly and batteries are replaced twice a year.
Preventing Accidental Injuries: Remove throw rugs, keep cables off the floor, and ensure adequate lighting throughout the house.
Cost-Effective Home Modifications: We understand that home modifications don't have to be expensive. Consider the following cost-effective changes to improve safety:
Bathroom Safety: If available, encourage the use of a first-floor bathroom. Install non-slip rugs, grab bars, and a raised toilet seat with grab bars for added stability.
Bedroom Safety: Place a bed rail on the side of the bed for easy maneuvering and consider textured signals on small-print items for individuals with decreased vision.
Stair Accessibility: Install a wheelchair ramp if stairs become challenging.
Medication Management: Ensure medication is clearly labeled and organized by day and time to prevent medication errors.
At Your Aging Therapist, our occupational and physical therapists play a crucial role in enhancing home safety for older adults. They can assess an individual's specific needs, provide balance exercises, offer tools and education on increasing safety, and guide caregivers on promoting independence. Creating a safe and secure home environment for older adults is essential to support their desire to age in place. Give us a call to schedule your home safety assessment and emergency preparedness plan!