Elder-Proofing Your Home is Important!

A safe home environment. It’s a must for anyone, but it’s particularly hard for the elderly to obtain. Fortunately, there are a number of different things you can do to ensure your loved ones are safer in their homes on a day to day basis, and these tips can help.

A Word of Advice
Before you begin the elder-proofing process, it’s particularly important that you talk to your loved one. Explain exactly what you plan to do, and why you plan to do so. The chances are good your loved one may feel as if his or her privacy is being invaded without having this essential discussion at the outset.

Helpful Tips 

Accessible bathtub and shower
Accessible bathtub and shower

While elder-proofing can involve extensive remodeling, that’s not always the case. Often a simple weekend of repairs can make the changes necessary to keep your loved one secure in his or her home.

  • Start in the Bathroom: The water in the bathroom makes it one of the most dangerous places in the house. Install grab bars around the tub, shower, and even the towel rack. You’ll also want to be sure you have non-slip rugs on the floor. Inside the tub and shower, install a surface that provides a solid footing so slips can’t happen.
  • Think Floors: Flooring concerns throughout the house are often present, as there are many hidden hazards that can create slip and trip situations. Remove any obstacles that might create a situation where someone could fall. Throw rugs can make people trip quite easily, and low lying furniture is an obstacle that could create a fractured hip or ankle quite quickly. You may even want to consider carpeting over slick surfaces.
  • Add Some Light: Eyesight deterioration is a natural part of aging, and homes that don’t have good lighting tend to become a safety issue. Consider some low voltage track lighting or recessed so you can keep lights on as much as possible. You may even want to add nightlights to keep it bright even when the sun sets.
  • Easy to Reach: Throughout the home, but especially in the kitchen area, make sure everything is within easy reach. Stools or ladders are serious hazards, so make sure your loved one can reach everything necessary to work in any room without a stool of any kind.
  • Keep It Stationary: From chairs to beds to couches, remove the rollers on any furniture that might move. A loved one may reach to grab a piece of furniture for stabilization, but if that furniture moves, a fall is likely.
  • Gas or Electric?: If your loved one has an gas stove, it may be time to consider a electric stove option instead. The sense of smell can diminish with age, and that makes gas powered stoves a fairly serious risk. Electric stoves tend to be far safer in that situation.
  • Stoves: For the elderly with dementia, safety knobs similar to those use for childproofing may be necessary. Dementia patients are at higher risk of putting something on the stove and forgetting that it’s there creating a serious fire hazard.

Not sure you can tackle everything that needs to be done? You may want to consult a home healthcare agency or a geriatric social worker with experience in elder-proofing the home to get a better sense of what changes should be implemented immediately.

David York Agency has done a lot of research about elder proofing homes and has compiled a concise, handy chart for caregivers to use which is available on the caregiver resources page of their website. Call today to learn about the full array of services we offer. Contact us at 718.376.7755 and visit our website.

Failure: Screening & Reporting Falls in Elderly

There seems to be a big gap with respect to caring for the elderly – reporting and screening for falls. The responsibility for this failure falls to both the elderly experiencing the falls as well as their caregivers and healthcare providers.

453263573A study out of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research shows 12.6% of
California’s elderly population fall more than one time a year and most do not report it to their medical provider. When they do report the event, the healthcare professional treating them seem to neglect counseling them on fall prevention in 40% of the cases.

Fall prevention is critical to the elderly since it is the leading cause for injury and hospitalization among those 65 and older and the risk only increases as they age. One in 5 people 85 and older report falling more than once a year versus 1 in 10 of those between 65 and 74. The outcomes of a fall in the elderly are often fatal or, at best, have long term consequences for performing their activities of daily living.

While it is incumbent on healthcare professionals to provide counseling to all their elderly patients, these providers must also be informed of any falls by those they treat. Elderly patients must be encouraged to report any falls so that they can be counseled how to prevent falls and to elder proof their surroundings. Also, they need to warn them about certain medications that can exacerbate their lack of balance which naturally declines as they age. Those medications include*:

  • anti-seizure drugs (anticonvulsants)
  • hypertensive (high blood pressure) drugs
  • sedatives
  • tranquilizers
  • anxiolytics (anti-anxiety drugs)
  • aminoglycosides (a type of antibiotic)
  • diuretics
  • vasodilators
  • certain analgesics (painkillers)
  • certain chemotherapeutics (anti-cancer drugs).

*From NIH Senior Health: Balance Problems: Causes and Prevention

 

At David York Home Healthcare Agency, we could provide direction to caregivers as to how to manage the total care of your senior loved one. David York Agency provides skilled home health aide services for the elderly in New York in their homes and is abreast of all the latest guidelines for seniors.  Our home health aides are certified and fully trained on how to safely care for the elderly. We would be happy to discuss your case with you.  Please call us at (718) 376-7755 or visit our website.  You can also like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn.

 

 

 

 

Using Color and Contrast to Increase Safety in the Home

As your loved ones age, their changing physical needs also require a change in their physical environment – their home. Elder proofing a home is a way to make sure a senior’s home is safe and in many cases it requires only slight accommodations and a small investment. A simple, yet effective method is incorporating color and contrast to increase the safety and functionality of their home.

color and contrastThe use of color and contrast accommodates the aging eye which may lose sensitivity and have difficulty differentiating similar patterns and colors. Therefore, using bolder color contrast becomes crucial. “When we talk of color contrast, it’s the separation of lights and darks,” said Michael Pause, a professor who teaches color and light theory at North Carolina State. “It’s the notion of being able to distinguish between two surfaces.” For example, using different colors on kitchen countertops and cabinets can help people with declining vision discern where one surface ends and the next begins. Other areas of the home that can benefit from color contrast and make for easier navigating include baseboards, stair edges, ramp edges, door moldings and, in the bathroom showers and bathtubs.

According to the Healthy House Institute,

“If the color of a floor and wall are similar, low light conditions will make it hard or impossible to clearly see where the floor meets the wall. The result for eyes not adjusted to low light conditions can be accidental collisions into the wall perhaps by turning a corner before actually reaching it. High contrast or opposite colors on the floor and walls makes the floor visually ‘pop.’ These are visual cues, additional guideposts for the brain to navigate by.”

There are a myriad of ways to use color and contrast to increase functionality in the home. The Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State offers several ideas in its “Universal Design in Housing” guide.

• Use a contrasting color border treatment on between floor surfaces and trim.
• Add color contrast to differentiate between stair treads and risers.
• Emphasize lighting at stairs, entrances and task lighting which affords easy recognition of the junction of floor surfaces and walls.
• Create contrast between countertops and front edges or cabinet faces.
• Avoid glossy surfaces, which may reflect light and glare, potentially confusing the eye.
• To increase safety, install color contrasting faucet handles.
• Use contrasting colors on wall and casements when installing light switches and window hardware.
• Color can also be used for facilitating recognition of everyday-use items in the kitchen and bathroom as well.

David York Agency has done a lot of research about elder proofing homes and has compiled a concise, handy chart for caregivers to use which is available on the caregiver resources page of their website.

David York Agency provides qualified and well-trained healthcare professionals when you need them: Certified Home Health Aides (HHA), Certified Personal Health Care Aides (PCA), Registered Nurses (RN), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN), full- or part-time, live-in or -out, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Licensed by the New York State Department of Health, we believe your loved one deserves the best care. Call for a free consultation today, at 718-376-7755.

Preventing Falls in the Elderly

We are often so consumed with the symptoms and treatments of the diseases endemic to the elderly that we fail to see how a simple fall can have catastrophic effects. These falls can lead to disabling conditions, extended hospital stays and even death. To the elderly, commonplace activities like walking, shopping and socializing become dreaded events.  Their physical realities combined with their fears mean that the elderly come to view themselves as fragile which exacerbates their isolation and depression, all too common conditions among this group.

Ten things you can do to prevent falls include (The National Institute on Aging has a handy tip sheet):487709591

  • Regular exercise, especially those that work on balance like yoga and tai chi, can help steady the elderly adult. Weight-bearing exercises that slow bone loss and lower-body strengthening exercises are especially helpful.
  • Physical therapy may be useful for improving balance and walking confidence.  Your doctor or health care provider may be able to make that referral.
  • Stand up slowly from a seated or lying position.
  • Wear rubber soled shoes to avoid slipping.
  • Make regular eye and hearing check-ups to ensure they are fitted with glasses with the optimal prescription for clear vision.  Interestingly, even wearing bifocals while walking or on steps may blur the vision enough to cause falls.  Proper hearing can ensure no cues are missed.
  • Elder proofing a home taking elderly needs and deficits into account much as we do for babies is often neglected.  (See article below.)
  • Regular dizziness may indicate an underlying medical condition with respect to blood pressure, circulation, or sensory issues which should be checked out by a physician.
  • Have the doctor or pharmacist review all medications to identify those most likely to cause dizziness and drowsiness.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol consumed.
  • Get enough sleep.
    Source: National Institute on Aging: Go4Life: Preventing Falls

David York Home Healthcare Agency  provides skilled home health aide services for the elderly in New York in their homes and is abreast of all the latest guidelines for seniors.  We would be happy to discuss your case with you.  Please call us at (718) 376-7755 or visit our website.  You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. At David York Agency, we could provide direction as to how to manage the total care of your senior loved one.