August 5th, 2017
Stay At Home Safely
By Chris Teague
Aging can sometimes be a frightening and intimidating process that makes even the smallest of challenges seem like big issues. As people get older and their physical abilities begin to change, living alone can become very dangerous and even deadly in some circumstances, as falls and small injuries are often cited as major problems. Our once comfortable and familiar homes become foreign and full of hazards as vision and hearing sometimes fade. There are several things that can be done to help make the home a safer place so you or your loved remain there and in a familiar place.
The first thing that should happen when concerns arise that someone may not be able to live at home is a thorough assessment of the house. A room by room walkthrough of the house will reveal tripping hazards, difficult to navigate spaces, and other potential areas of concern. Many home care organizations offer these services, and an independent eye can really help pick out dangers and recommend fixes. The National Association of Home Builders offers an “Aging-in-Place Remodeling Checklist” to help guide aging homeowners to live safely and independently. Link: Home Safety Checklist
Plan It Out
Secondly, having a plan of communication and a network of family or friends will create peace of mind and give a safety net for the individual living alone. The physical dangers of slips and falls are increased greatly when there is a chance that the person can become immobile and unable to reach out for help. Not having a contact person or people may mean that someone living alone can be stuck and injured indefinitely. There are many free or very low cost options for individuals with limited family or social connections, such as Area Agencies on Aging.
Technology has also become an increasingly important tool in the lives of aging individuals at home. As the level of sophistication grows, so does the level of convenience and usefulness. From cameras and motion sensors to wearable devices that detect falls and vital signs, technology creates connections to the outside world that drastically decrease the chances that someone has a health or other issue that goes undetected. The costs of most devices have also decreased as they become more common, and some are even covered by insurance or Medicare. These items are designed to be used in-home and are usually able to be installed and set up by anyone.
Staying at home won’t be possible for everyone, and may be very difficult for people that live in extremely remote areas. Even in cases where remaining at home isn’t an option, taking the time to perform a home assessment and setting up a communication plan is valuable to facilitate the time that is left at home. Aging Excellence provides in-home care services and handyman services to help you or a family member comfortably stay at home as long as possible.