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When Denial Gets in the Way of Safety

As we age, there is no doubt in our hearts we feel young. And although being young at heart is wonderful, this ethereal feeling is no match for the ever-changing state of our bodies and the status of our health.

As we age, changes take place with our health that can dramatically affect our ability to navigate our home environment safely. Although falls are not necessarily a part of aging, 40% of nursing home admissions are due to slip and fall accidents. These accidents can affect the course of our ability to be independent and live quality lives at home.

Of course walking around in bubble wrap to keep from falling in your home is not a doable solution – it’s hot, unsightly, and frankly not a fashion stopper. Many individuals elect to do nothing, feeling invincible. This denial can lead to unexpected accidents, which then brings you into crisis mode. However, seeking preventative solutions in advance of a potential crisis, is the most optimal way to stay safe while aging at home. Intervention IS prevention.

Top of your list should be a Home Safety Assessment. The American and British Geriatric Societies report, “ Multifactorial risk assessment and intervention strategies are effective in decreasing the rates of falls and have a similar risk reduction to that of other prevention measures such as statins for cardiovascular disease”.

What can I expect from a home safety assessment? Who will evaluate my environment? What happens following the assessment?

Our physical therapist provides a home safety assessment, during which time, not only will you be evaluated navigating your home environment, but the environment itself will be evaluated for safety hazards in a variety of rooms, including the bathroom, where falls occur most frequently in the home.

The therapist will make clinical recommendations based on your individual diagnosis or physical limitations to ensure optimal fall prevention safety outcomes, customized for you in your space.

We complete the process by providing and clinically installing all needed items. We provide a warranty for all of our products and services, and we are licensed, bonded and insured.

You may not have concerns about falling now, but denying that it’s a possibility puts you at greater risk. Once injuries occur from falls, often there is no turning back. Protect your health, independence and future, scheduled your clinically guided home safety assessment.

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How Does Your Home Rate on Fall Prevention Safety? A Room-by-Room Guide

We’ve all read about things we can do to avoid unnecessary slip and fall accidents in our home, but how closely have you looked at specifics. Here are a few things you can do in your home, you may not have thought of, addressed or knew would assist you in being falls free in and around your home:

  1. Ensure exterior pathways are free of holes, loose stones/bricks, uneven pavement, debris or other slipping hazards.
  2. All entrances are clutter free.
  3. Handrails are present on both sides of all steps and stairways both inside and outside the home.
  4. Kitchen cabinets are easily accessible, with frequently used items placed on lower shelves.
  5. Uncarpeted steps feature a non-slip surface such as adhesive strips.
  6. Electrical and phone cords are placed out of the way, along the wall.
  7. Hallway lighting is easily accessible.
  1. Safety grab bars are present at shower entry and interior of shower as needed.
  2. Bathroom rugs should be rubber, based, non-slip. Bathroom floors, tubs and shower surfaces are treated with non-slip product to ensure increased COF (Coefficient of Friction), when surfaces are wet – critically reducing fall risk – Note: The Bathroom is the number one place for falls in the home).
  3. Access to telephones both landline and/or mobile in or near multiple rooms, including the bathroom.
  4. Furniture should be arranged to allow for easy, obstacle free passage.
  5. Do doorways safely accommodate walkers, wheelchairs and/or transport chairs?

If you or a loved one is uncertain about falls risk factors in your home, schedule a free home safety assessment today, performed by a MEASURAbilities Home Safety Physical Therapist, who will provide clinically guided solutions for you in your environment.

Learn About Our Home Safety Assessments Performed by a Physical Therapist

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Conversations to Have with Your Aging Parents: Creating a Falls-Free World

We often worry about our aging parents’ safety, well-being and even fiscal health, and many adult children find themselves in the sometimes-awkward position of having to bring up these sensitive conversations with aging parents.

Among these concerns, fall prevention may be the hardest to bring up – especially if your parents have chosen to retain their independence by aging in place. Many older adults experience a certain amount of denial about their physical capabilities, which makes it hard to ring up sensitive issues like fall prevention.

Keep reading for some simple ways to broach the conversation with your parents.

Find Support in Family and Friends

This is a tough conversation but a necessary one. Ask your loved one if they are concerned about falling or have taken any spills. Many older adults recognize that falling is a risk but believe it won’t happen to them – even if they’ve already fallen in the past.

If they’re concerned about dizziness, environmental concerns, medications, foot issues or balance, suggest that they talk to a health care provider who can assess their risk and recommend services that can help.

Discuss Current Health Conditions

Are your loved ones experiencing challenges managing their own health? Having problems or concerns about medication management? Forgetting to take their medications?

Things that were once easily doable tasks are now more challenging for them. Make them aware that Medicare offers preventative benefits which they can take advantage of – such as the Annual Wellness visit. Encourage them to speak openly with their health care provider about all their concerns.

Ask About Their Last Vision Exam

If your elderly family member or friend wears glasses, make sure their prescription is current. Many are not aware that using lenses where the tinting changes can cause problems when going from bright sunlight into darkened areas.

Changing glasses upon entry or exit is often helpful to allow time for their lenses to adjust. Those dealing with low vision issues should consult their eye doctor.

Observe Behaviors of Holding onto Walls, Chairs, Tables, etc. for Ambulating Their Environment

These are all signs there might be balance or other related issues which a trained physical therapist could diagnose. Through physical therapy, increased balance, strength and conditioning and reduce fall risk.

Additionally, the physical therapist may recommend walking and/or assistive devices to help keep them safe when transferring sit to stand or being mobile in their home and outside environments.

Have a Conversation About Medications

If your older loved one is having a hard time keeping track of medicines or is experiencing side effects, encourage them to have a conversation with their doctor or pharmacist. Suggest that they have their medications reviewed each time they get a new prescription.

My mom had an elaborate spreadsheet to keep track of her medications and schedules. Adding a timed medication dispenser that my sister refilled each month promoted her peace of mind and allowed us to ensure her adherence to the prescribed regime.

Also, beware of non-prescription medications that contain sleep aids—including painkillers with “PM” in their names. These can lead to balance issues and dizziness. If your older loved one is having sleeping problems, encourage them to talk to their doctor or pharmacist about safer alternatives.

Do A Walk-Through Safety Assessment of Their Home

There are many simple and inexpensive ways to make a home safer. For professional assistance, consult MEASURAbilities Home Safety. Our physical therapist provides free home safety assessments and customized, clinically guided recommendations and installations.

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