Keeping Home a Safe Haven
by Barbara Williams Cosentino, RN, CSW
As we get older, changes in balance, gait, strength, vision, hearing, and cognition make even the most youthful senior more prone to accidents. Falls can be a health risk for older people. This increased risk of falling is related to:
Depending on the brittleness of your bones, the consequences of a fall can be serious and long lasting.
If you are an older adult, you may be able to prevent some home accidents by making simple lifestyle changes and basic modifications and repairs to the home environment. Here are some lifestyle changes that experts recommend:
Overall Home Safety Check
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commision's "Older Consumer Home Safety Checklist," it is important to check for potential hazards in each room. And remember, proper lighting is an essential factor in home safety. If you cannot see clearly, you are more likely to fall.
Important questions to ask yourself include:
Room by Room
In the Kitchen
In the Bathroom
In the Bedroom
If you have a chronic condition, you may want to sign up with an automatic call-in service. Typically the system includes a small pendant that connects directly to an emergency medical voice-response system. You should also make arrangements to stay in contact with someone—friend, neighbor, family member—on a regular schedule.
Talk with your doctor or assisted living personnel about items that may help you to be safe as you go about your day. These may include bathing and mobility aids, household security devices, ergonomically designed knives and peelers, and faucet valves and knobs for temperature control. Medical supply stores and organizations are also good sources of information about products that improve your quality of life and ensure your safety.
National Institute on Aging
Canadian Health Network
Seniors Canada On-line
Falls in the elderly. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated March 4, 2011. Accessed March 7, 2011.
Older consumer home safety checklist. Consumer Product Safety Commission website. Available at: http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PUBS/705.pdf.
Universal design: home modification devices. American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) website. Available at: http://www.aarp.org/universalhome/home.html.
5/28/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php: Haran M, Cameron I, Ivers R, et al. Effect on falls of providing single lens distance vision glasses to multifocal glasses wearers: VISIBLE randomised controlled trial. BMJ. 2010;340:c2265.
3/7/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php: Panel on Prevention of Falls in Older Persons, American Geriatrics Society and British Geriatrics Society. Summary of the Updated American Geriatrics Society/British Geriatrics Society clinical practice guideline for prevention of falls in older persons. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2011;59(1):148-57.
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