In 2021 the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) conducted a survey of almost 3,000 adults over the age of 18. The survey, called The Home and Community Preferences Survey was designed to study how adults handled isolation during 2020 pandemic times, but it yielded some other interesting results as well. Most predictably—that people over the age of 50 are overwhelmingly interested in aging in place with “more than three-quarters of U.S. adults wanting to stay in their current homes for as long as possible.”
As more and more seniors age in place, in their own homes, they also continue to live active lives in their communities. Safety is always a consideration for seniors, whether at home or traveling, and we’ve pulled some of the best tips around to help you plan ahead and keep you (or your senior loved one) safer at home and on the road.
Safety Tips for the Home
When it comes to senior safety, it’s important to have a homespace that helps and doesn’t hinder the day to day activities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “In 2018, 27.5% of adults aged 65 years or older reported at least one fall during the past 12 months (35.6 million falls).
Some, if not most, of those falls could have been prevented by some simple home modifications like:
- Avoid using area rugs that can pose a trip and fall hazard. Limit the use of loose runners, long furniture covers, drapes, and other trip hazards that may cause a fall.
- Install grab bars in the bathroom to help with stability and standing. Bars in the bath, shower, entryway, and basement can help with stability and balance.
- Use nightlights throughout the home for visibility during the overnight hours. Light walking paths outdoors, and consider motion detector lights near main entrances.
- Consider installing a ramp with handrails if the home entrance is difficult to manage. Ramps may be permanent or temporary, made of wood or metal. Some ramps have covers to allow protection from the elements.
- Place non-slip tape strips on slippery floor surfaces like tile, wood, or stairs. Non-slip tape is available from hardware stores and can be applied most anywhere you need a bit of grip.
While non-slip tape won’t guarantee additional safety around the house and on the road, these simple changes may help prevent a potentially serious injury or fall, and could contribute to helping seniors stay in their own homes longer.
While falls in the home lead to both major and minor injuries each year, it’s also true that a great number of motor vehicle accidents happen within five minutes of home. If you or your loved one is an aging driver, there are some things you can do to prepare for those driving trips.
Safety Tips While Driving
In 2016 Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health conducted a study on the mental health of seniors based on their ability to independently drive a motor vehicle. According to the study, “driving cessation nearly doubled the risk of depressive symptoms, while also contributing to diminished cognitive abilities and physical functioning.”
It’s no secret we love our independence, and giving up the keys to the car can be a big transition as we age. According to Mayo Clinic, seniors can maintain their driver license and, by association, their independence, by following some suggestions:
- Stay physically and mentally active.
- Keep a regular schedule for hearing and visual screenings.
- Appropriately manage medications so they don’t impair the ability to drive.
- Stash cell phones to avoid distractions and stay focused on the road.
- Understand personal limitations. Don’t drive at night if it’s hard to see.
- Update your driving skills. Renew your license as required by your state.
- Drive only when the roads – and you – are in good condition.
Maintaining physical and mental health may contribute to the ability to continue driving and to continue living at home—both part of what’s known as “aging in place.”
Preventing or being aware of the risks in the home and while driving can help maintain an independent lifestyle, and that independence can lead to adventures like traveling, but there are some important safety tips to consider when embarking on a trip as well. It’s all in the planning.
Safety While Traveling
The experience of travel is beneficial for aging seniors because it keeps them active and continuously learning—not to mention some seniors have worked and waited their entire lives to see the world.
As with any new activity, travel comes with its own set of safety concerns but advance preparedness can help make sure the trip is a success. To be fully prepared and alert while traveling, prepare in advance by:
- Considering existing health conditions. If you have a condition that may impact travel, always check with your doctor before making any plans.
- Consider the accommodations in the rooms or buildings when making arrangements. Will you need handicap accessible showers? A transfer lift? Wheelchair rental?
- Try to have a flexible itinerary. The ability to travel before or after your planned dates may be necessary to accommodate changes in health or other travel plans beyond your control.
- Arrange well in advance for supplies and medications to be transported. It’s relatively simple to ship a package to a destination, or arrange, in advance, to have prescriptions filled/refilled at your destination.
- Take into consideration any specific dietary needs while traveling. Airport food isn’t always the healthiest choice. Will you need a special diet at your destination? Planning ahead will help diet disruptions.
- Remember to practice discretion with your valuables. Use the safe provided or carry your valuables with you.
Preparedness is the key to safety – whether it’s at home, in the car, or on a trip across the country. A little advanced planning and some attention to details may well help you to live safer (and longer) wherever you are. Aging is place can be possible
First Care Home Services provides skilled nursing, home healthcare, and 24/7 nursing services throughout Miami Dadeand Broward Counties. Contact Us or give us a call. We strive to return calls within 30 minutes so you can get started with the services you need. Miami Dade: 305-945-9025; Broward: 954-942-4393.
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