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Making Home Safe for Seniors

Whether it's for an older family member or someone who is temporarily incapacitated, it's important to keep a home safe

Maneuvering inside a home has its hazards, even for the most athletic, able-bodied, and anyone who is not accident-prone. When you're dealing with an incapacity of any sort or thinking about the needs of the elderly, it's even more important to be sure your home - or theirs - is safe.

There are a few simple tricks to employ as well as some long-term design changes that will ease the burden of getting around. Some are critical safety issues that may help avoid injury as well.

The simplest changes include:

- Adding a bathmat or adhesive strips to tubs and showers.
-Purchasing a shower seat and handheld shower attachment.
-For those who are standing, mount shelving to the shower walls or corners to avoid leaning over.
-Mount grab bars to tub edges and check them frequently for stability.
-Use Lazy Susans in kitchens and other rooms, including under bathroom cabinets and on closet shelves.
-Get rid of slippery rugs or use no-skid liners. Even these are a hazard as they'll create an uneven surface and, therefore, become a potential tripping hazard.
-Purchase several nightlights and place them in every room.
-Invest in clothing with pockets to hold such items as extra reading glasses and a cell phone.

Other long-term safety suggestions:

-Relocate microwaves that are mounted over stovetops or are above elbow level. Reaching for hot dishes with unsteady hands is a recipe for disaster.
-Purchase appliances with controls on the front, especially stoves. Steaming pots can cause burns when reaching across. A loose robe sleeve can catch fire just as easily.
-Remount electrical switches to waist height, so there's no leaning over. Some people lose balance unexpectedly. Avoiding this type of activity can give new independence to many.
-Purchase railings for steps and any place there's a change in surface levels. Even doorways that have higher jambs could benefit from a professional assist. Make sure they are adequately installed to support a person's full weight.
-If steps are too steep, replace them with more shallow versions.
-Purchase light activators that turn lamps on when the skies darken, rather than at a certain time of day. This will be helpful on cloudy or stormy days.




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