Simple “Fixes” Can Keep You Living In Your Own Home Longer

senior home care minnesota

BY JAMES MILEY

Medical ailments are not the only determining factors that can make it impossible to continue living independently, in the comfort and safety of your own home.  The aging process can be cruel to some, and devastating to others wanting to continue living safely in the home, where for many, a lifetime of fond memories, milestones, and the comfort of familiar surroundings only your home can bring into being.

As mobility issues arise, diminishing eye-sight, or your hearing can’t be relied on as in the past, even simple fixes to your home become an ever growing challenge. When considering how the effects of these three senses (either separate or in concert) contribute to the quality of our lives is dramatic when they now cannot be counted on.

When we, or our loved ones start exhibiting any of the signs of aging, it’s time for us to start examining how a few simple alterations to our surroundings will not only improve our safety, but also improve our ability to continue living independently, with more functionality.

Let’s look at each of the three senses mentioned separately, and you’ll noticed that almost always, they work in harmony.

MOBILITY

I don’t have to explain to anyone who has fallen, slipped, tripped, or stumbled and ended up with a prolonged injury one wouldn’t dreamed possible, related to how the incident occurred. A walk to the bathroom or bedroom we’ve maneuvered thousands of time before. From one second to the next, this normally simple jaunt just may have started the ball rolling downhill. Here are a few simple suggested areas of concern to estimate whether you may need to make a few simple adjustments to your home and surroundings to diminish your chances of taking that ‘unscheduled trip’.

  • Note condition of walk and drive surfaces
  • Handrails, are they sturdy and well placed
  • Are the hallways wide enough to accommodate walkers or a wheelchair
  • Are throw rugs secured with two-sided tape
  • Are stairways and walking areas free of clutter, phone and electrical cords
  • Is the height level of the toilet comfortable and easy to access and exit
  • Can you turn on a light, TV, radio, or use the phone from a chair, sofa, or bed
  • Do you have sturdy grab bars, accurately located in the bathroom
  • Are you able to get in and out of the tub/shower safely

VISION

It’s obvious to all of us over the age 40, that our eye sight can diminish rather quickly. It starts with having to hold the menu at ‘arms- length’. But soon we notice our arms aren’t long enough for us to focus on the text we could barely make out last month.

  • Note the lighting level for porch, driveway, and walk
  • Do your doors have peepholes
  • Is the level of lighting consistent for the tasks being preformed
  • Are light switches illuminated
  • Are there light switches at the top and bottom of staircases
  • Are light switches at the entrance of each room
  • Can you open and close curtains/blinds
  • Are there lights in the closets

HEARING

As I grew up, I’d hear slogans like ‘silence is golden’, and ‘children are to be seen, not heard”. It seemed appropriate in-light of the chaos my eight siblings and I created at our home. My hearing is still pretty good, even after ‘turning up the volume’ while listening to my favorite music from ages 15 to 35 years old. However, sometimes I do have a little trouble hearing clearly in a noisy restaurant, or at a sporting activity because of ‘background noise’. But I’m noticing more and more, that I’m straining to hear the TV in the next room, or the person on the other end of the cell phone.

  • Is the doorbell working properly
  • Are the telephones hardwired or cordless
  • Do you have and use an answering machine
  • Are there phone jacks near your bed, favorite chair, eating area
  • Are you able to hear the doorbell and identify visitors
  • Are the smoke/CO alarms properly working and loud enough to hear

Was it balance, or clutter? Was it lack of concentration? Did I slip or trip? How well lit is the room or hallway?

My belief is that mobility, vision, and sight, either independently or coupled together are the culprits for our most serious accidents around the home. There are other qualifiers that add to this mix as well. The effects of medication can severely impact balance and/or vision and should be taken into account as we age. Pre-existing medical conditions can influence our abilities to maneuver safely around the home. Have we taken the necessary steps to update or upgrade our surroundings as we accumulate new medical conditions related to only one of the homes occupants, or do we just try to get along as before?

Each time we make an initial visit to a potential client’s home, we perform a 73 point Home Safety Inspection to highlight several areas of possible concern. In almost every instance, the clients are not willing to make some simple adjustments because the “throw rug is my wives favorite”, or clearing the clutter, because “I haven’t fallen yet, so why change it now”.

In many cases, not all, but many, this incidents can be prevented by a few simple actions.

Our ability to eliminate safety issues is usually simple, inexpensive, and generally easy to do with minimal experience needed. If you, your children, or a friend can’t facilitate making these change to your home, give us a call and we’ll find fix for the right price!