Daylight Savings is Sunday, November 6, 2022, and the long-standing campaign “Change Your Clocks, Change Your Batteries” is a good reminder to conduct safety inspections in your elder’s home at least every six months (or when circumstances change). It is important because falls are the leading cause of injury and injury-related deaths for elders, and the risk of falls increase with each additional 10 years of life.
Here at Springpoint at Home, we believe safety in the home is critical to aging in place. To help our clients meet that goal, we conduct safety evaluations as part of our onboarding process.
Safety evaluations throughout the home for tripping hazards, like throw rugs, are important. But particular attention should be paid to increased safety in the bathroom and kitchen.
In the bathroom, grab bars, a raised or high-profile toilet, no-slip strips in the bathtub and shower, along with a waterproof seat or chair in the shower, give someone with mobility issues stability. Ongoing toileting evaluation gives your elder control over their home, a sticking point for many, while ensuring their safety. For example, you can start with a raised toilet seat and add handrails later. Don’t forget to check the temperature of the water in the bathroom and kitchen to avoid scalding.
Arrange cabinets so that the most used items are handy, so step stools are not needed. Slip-proof flooring and task lighting (like over the stove) and motion lighting are important safety features for a kitchen. An elder’s sense of smell and taste may change over time, so ensuring their food is not spoiled is key.
A small lamp on each side of the bed, which can be turned on and off by voice command using Assistive Technology (like Amazon Alexa or Google Home), will ensure there is light on in the room before they get out of bed. Keep cords contained and away from any walking paths. A bed at the right height means they can place their feet firmly on the floor when sitting on the edge of the bed. If getting out of bed is getting harder, you can install portable guardrails between the mattress and box spring.
Throughout the home, replace standard doorknobs with lever handles, since they are easier for arthritic hands to use. Sufficient light and spot lighting in all rooms, but especially the kitchen, bathroom, hallways and outside entries, are key to aging eyesight. Consider adding motion detector lights for traveling from the bedroom to the bathroom and while going up or downstairs to avoid shadows.
Safety checks and updated safety changes are only one part of the equation. Health is the other, and there are several health factors that can put your elder at additional risk for a fall: vertigo, vision and hearing loss, lack of lower body strength, foot neuropathy, and medications. Springpoint at Home’s nursing staff help to keep these health factors top of mind.
Our Aging Life Care Advisors™ / Care Managers can help clients find all the appropriate resources for each room in the home and can assist with tasks like helping your elder clean out their pantry, freezer, and refrigerator foods.
The latest poll from the University of Michigan’s National Poll on Healthy Aging conducted in April 2022, found that nearly 9 in 10 Americans (88%) between 50 and 80 years old think it is important to remain in their home. It takes a village for an elder to age in place safely and in good health. Springpoint at Home is an important partner to have in your care team village. To learn more about Springpoint at Home and the benefit of our services, call 844-724-1777.