Seniors Living at Home

Seniors Living at Home
By the GWAAR Legal Services Team (for reprint)

Nearly 90% of people over age 65 want to stay at home for as long as possible, according to AARP.  Living independently can be very good for a senior’s mental health and can have many other positive impacts.  In fact, many seniors are living at home. The U.S. Census Bureau found that 11 million, or 28% of people over age 65, lived alone at the time of the census. While this can be extremely positive, there are some risks when seniors remain in their homes.  For instance, they may experience a medical situation and not be able to get to the help they need.

The following are some steps seniors can take to decrease the risks of staying at home:

  • Avoid slippery conditions and tripping hazards. Make sure floors aren’t slippery and do not have tripping hazards.  Put down non-slip floor mats in your bathrooms and install safety bars (also known as ‘grab bars’) in bath tubs and showers, and next to toilets.  Also install mats at the entry points to your house so floors don’t get slick on rainy and snowy days.  Stray electrical cords and rugs that don’t lie flat are common causes of falls.
  • Keep your house well lit. Make sure your bulbs are the proper wattage and consider installing nightlights to illuminate your floors at night.
  • Get to know your neighbors. If you and your neighbors get to know each other, you are all more likely to notice when something goes wrong.
  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms regularly. This is true for everyone, but it is important to keep your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms working.  Change batteries every six months when you reset your clocks for daylight savings time and standard time.
  • Organize a daily check-in. Ask a loved-one or friend to call each day to make sure everything is okay.  You can offer to do the same for them.  Besides a daily way to make sure you are alright, this can also be a way to prevent the negative impact of senior isolation.  Consider meeting weekly with your friends so that you re-main active socially and have a reason to leave your home.
  • Don’t place items in hard to reach places. Make the things you need easy-to-reach.  Climbing to get to items in high places is another common cause of falls.
  • Make sure someone other than you can get in the house. If you have a trusted friend, neighbor, or family member, give them a spare key.  Also consider installing a lock box.  A lock box allows family members, friends, and trusted neighbors to access your home when you cannot get to the door.  Either one of these steps could be invaluable if you need emergency services.
  • Keep lists of medications, allergies, and personal information in your wallet or purse. This information will help emergency medical personnel when they come to your home, especially if you are unconscious or unable to communicate.  Also consider wearing a trendy medical ID bracelet or fashionable medical alert jewelry.

· Appear ‘busy’.  When the doorbell rings call out, “I will get it!”  Place extra shoes on the porch, leave the stereo on when you’re away, and keep a few lights on timers.  When you’re expecting a repairman or any scheduled unknown visitor, have a friend or two over to keep you company.  When it appears that several people live in the home you’re a less likely target to strangers.

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