Simple changes in the home can make life easier, safer and more comfortable for you and your family. This is particularly important for older adults who are living in their own homes, sharing a home, or staying in an apartment. Each year or more frequently as needed, older adults and their families should conduct an Annual Home Safety Check-Up. There are many resources available to guide you in creating your own home safety check-up. Key components of your plan should include how to identify the hazardous areas in your home, ways to fix the problems and ongoing ways to prevent accidents from happening.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), home and recreational safety is paramount to the prevention of injuries in older adults. One of every three senior adults (65 years or older) fall each year. Of those who fall, 20-30% suffer moderate to severe injuries such as lacerations, hip fractures and head traumas. These injuries make it hard to get around or live independently, and increase the risk of early death. Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries. People aged 75 and older who fall are 4-5 times more likely than those who are between 65-74 years old to be admitted to a long term care facility for a year or longer.
What can you do to make your home safer so you can live comfortably and independently? We have compiled a general guide for you to use as you build your own Annual Home Safety Check-Up. This guide is not meant to be exhaustive, but will give you a jump start on what you can do to make your home safer starting today. Key areas include the following:
- Reduce Tripping Hazards: Are electrical and telephone cords found in high traffic areas? Are your floors slippery? Do your steps have non-slip surfaces? Does your carpet need repair? Are there areas of flooring that are raised and need to be repaired? Do you use nightlights in your hallways and bathrooms? Do you have grab bars inside and outside your bathroom shower/tub? Do you have railings on both sides of your stairways?
- Use Emergency Precautions: Are there fire extinguishers and smoke detectors on every floor? Do you safely store your sharp cutlery and potentially poisonous chemicals? Do you use a personal emergency response device?
- Get Rid of Clutter: What can you do to make your home more comfortable and easier for you to live a healthier and peaceful life?
At AgeWell New York, we conduct home environment assessments for our members to identify ways to improve healthier and safer living in one’s home and community.