When Grandma Becomes a Statistic
Unfortunately, today’s post has been prompted by some recent events in my own life. Two weeks ago, my grandmother, who has managed to remain fairly mobile, suffered a nasty fall when she tripped on a rug in her laundry room. The result was a broken leg that has kept her in the hospital undergoing physical therapy. This means that my own grandma has become a statistic and added her name to the 33% of seniors who experience a dangerous fall every year.
With the state of her health and recovery still up in the air, it seems like a perfect time to discuss home safety how to make the best decisions when it comes to caring for our older family members.
First, a look at the numbers. Suffering a fall can cause a rapid decline in overall health and by decreasing mobility:
If you are facing tough decisions when it comes to your loved ones’ health, the first step is to take a deep breathe and speak with an expert. Chances are there are more options out there than you think. From community based programs, to simple home solutions there are a variety of things you can do to help your loved one stay in their homes and remain independent for as long as possible.
Caring for Your Elderly Love One
Unless you or your loved one requires around-the-clock care, you should be able to avoid moving into a costly nursing home. A geriatric care specialist or Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) can help you to evaluate your situation and formulate a plan based on your daily needs. Some people simply need help cooking healthy meals, keeping up with the housekeeping or getting to and from doctors’ appointments. Instead of removing your loved one from their home, you can fill in the care gap with local services and in home aides.
If you want to find out more about what kind of services are offered in your community, the best place to start is by contacting your local Area Agency on Aging. Programs like Meals on Wheels and local senior ride programs are completely run by volunteers. These free services can allow your loved one to stay active and maintain a sense of independence.
Simple Safety Solutions that You Can Implement Today!
If you and your family decide that aging in place is the right solution, the next step is to take some simple measures to increase home safety. The most important thing you can do to make a home senior friendly is to remove any hazards that might cause a fall. This can involve common sense solutions such as:
- Removing clutter from hallways
- Making sure electrical cords are tucked out of the way
- Using non-slip mats to increase traction wherever possible
- Removing raised thresholds
Minor additions to your home can also improve safety and allow for greater freedom and independence. Consider the following easy adjustments to improve overall safety:
- Install inexpensive wheelchair ramps for those with mobility challenges
- Add lights to any indoor and outdoor pathways
- Install fire and carbon monoxide detectors throughout the home
- Place fire extinguishers in strategic locations
- Modify light switches so that they can be activated by clapping
- Install grab bars in the bathroom[i]
Tools for Aging in Place
Once you have implemented some quick fixes, you might consider making additional modifications to your home. If you are having trouble climbing stairs, a stair lift can be an easy to install solution that will ensure you have access to all areas of your home. Another common area of the home where people often struggle with mobility is the bathroom. Simple mobility solutions that will help prevent falls and allow people to safely bathe without assistance include bath lifts and walk-in tubs. Many people also find that lift chairs make a big difference when it comes to enjoying greater independence. These simple recliners feature a powerful lift mechanism that will allow you to easily sit and stand without the help of a caregiver. Users often find that their lift chair is more comfortable than their beds and can allow them to enjoy better quality sleep.
For my own Grandma, something as simple as securing her rugs could have prevented her injury. As she continues to recover, it will be up to the family to continually assess her needs and make sure that she has access to the tools and resources she needs to prevent further injuries and remain in the house that she has spent so many years turning into a home full of memories.
How to Avoid Becoming Statistic
In a word: planning. Don’t wait for an accident to happen before you start improving safety in your home. Make simple changes today and work with a CAPS to make sure that you or your loved one have a strategic approach to aging in place. With a little bit of planning, you can avoid having to make stressful decisions in high pressure situations. Small investments early on can also prevent costly care later on down the line. No matter what age you are, get started today.
[i] “Making a Home Senior Friendly.” AmeriGlide 22 October 2013. Web. 22 October 2013.,