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Keeping the Elderly Safe at Home as Long as Possible

As medical technology advances and life expectancy extends, the senior population in the United States continues to rise. The total number of elderly Americans is expected to double in the next 40 years, many of whom will eventually need additional care at home or in a nursing or long-term care facility. Because of this, it is important to discuss how aging and injuries do not necessarily go hand in hand. While it is easier for elderly individuals to sustain injuries, injuries most frequently occur because the space they occupy needs to be updated.

The most frequent reason seniors transition to nursing home living is so they can receive the care they require, in a safe environment, which can cater to their unique needs. Every 13 seconds, a fall-related injury is treated in an emergency room, and for seniors living alone the outcome is often dire. As a result, nursing homes are designed to be inherently safer for seniors than the average home. So as we age, it’s wise to consider whether the homes we retire in are going to continue to be functional and safe as we approach our golden years.

Fortunately, there are things that you can do for yourself or loved ones to make it easier to remain at home for as long as possible. Here are five home-care tips, from the American Geriatrics Society’s Health in Aging Foundation, to help protect aging adults from common dangers in the home:

  1. Keep Emergency Numbers Handy. Keep a list of emergency numbers near all phones, written large and clearly. Be sure to include numbers for poison control, fire and police departments, family members and the family doctor.
  2. Prevent Falls. Falls are the leading cause of injury for older Americans. To prevent falls, make sure all hallways, stairs and paths are well lit and clear of objects, install rails and banisters at stairwells and tape all rugs and cords to the floor to prevent slippage.
  3. Protect Against Fire Hazards. Older adults may move more slowly or have trouble hearing smoke alarms. The largest cause for fire-related deaths is smoking, so try to avoid smoking inside and never when tired. Make sure there is a loud, working smoke alarm on every level of the house and near sleeping areas.
  4. Avoid Bathroom Hazards. 80 percent of all falls occur in bathrooms. So, install grab bars in the shower and near the toilet. Put rubber mats in the bathtub. And consider setting the water heater thermostat below 120 F to prevent scalding.
  5. Stop Medication Errors.  Seniors may mistakenly take too much, take the wrong type or incorrectly mix two or more medications. Therefore, keep all medications in original containers and ask the pharmacist to put large-print labels on prescriptions.

It is very important to many older Americans to remain independent and have the opportunity to live at home as long as possible, rather than moving to a nursing home or long-term care facility. But often personal circumstances require seniors to choose admission to such facilities. And unfortunately, those facilities may not provide the expected quality of care that is required. So, if you or a loved one has received abusive or negligent care in a nursing home that was supposed to be a safer option for your family, contact the nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys of Hupy and Abraham right away. Call 800-800-5678 for a free consultation, or start a live chat anytime at