As we age, many of us will lose some agility and balance, increasing the chances of a serious fall. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 36 million falls among older adults are reported each year, resulting in 32,000 deaths and 3 million emergency room visits. So making a home safe to prevent falls and other injuries as we get older, or to care for older adults, is something that shouldn’t be put off and may require professional help.
An AARP survey found that 77% of adults age 50 and older want to stay in their home. But only 34% of the older respondents realize they need to make home modifications to make them safer. Some seniors live with younger family members or in a separate dwelling unit on a family member’s property.
There are many things that can be done to reduce the chances of a fall or injury at home. Some are basic, easy-to-do precautions such as:
- Remove throw rugs
- Clear pathways by cleaning up clutter and removing excess furniture
- Situate lamps in easy-to-reach places and use nightlights
- Use non-slip mats
- Tie up electrical cords
Other improvements may require contracting help:
- Install shower rails
- Install taller toilets
- Replace stairs with ramps
- Fix or install stair handrails
- Replace flooring with non-slip materials
- Add lighting fixtures
If you need to hire a contractor, make sure they are licensed and get competitive bids. Also watch out for scams. The California Contractors State Licensing Board warns against:
- Door-to-door solicitations
- High-pressure or scare tactics
- Verbal agreements
- Demands for cash payments
- Illegal large down payments ─ In California, a down payment cannot exceed 10% of the total project price or $1000, whichever is less, in most cases.
In the above situations, a so-called contractor may start the work, but leave it unfinished or shoddy ─ resulting in an even more unsafe environment. Or you may end up paying for unnecessary work or overpaying for the project.
If significant changes are needed to accommodate a debilitated or disabled person at high-risk of injury, consider hiring an occupational therapist or certified aging-in-place specialist for guidance.
Our team at Senior Safe & Sound is here to help families protect seniors. If you need more support or information, email us at info@SeniorSafeAndSound.org.
This information is intended to inform the public at large about this important issue. It is not intended to serve as legal or medical advice.