June is National Home Safety Month and there’s a buzz around “aging in place,” so we’ve gathered tips and products that can help today’s (stylish) older adults avoid falls and live well at home for years to come.
A top home-safety goal: Fall prevention
Falls are a growing problem when it comes to home safety, as many older adults opt to live independently at home for as long as possible.
“Although many seniors are more active and living longer, more than 1 in 4 report falling,” according to the CDC. “Emergency departments treat over 3 million older Americans for falls each year while direct medical expenses add up to more than $31 billion annually.”
Because falls can cause severe injury and loss of independence, the CDC encourages you to talk openly with your healthcare provider(s) about them as soon as possible, even if you don’t get injured. They can do a screening on your future fall risk and help address balance or vision problems, medication side effects and other factors.
Preventing falls isn’t the only way you can make your house more safe. It may be worth considering installing something like a home security camera in order to deter any burglars or criminals in your area.
Home safety pointers
The CDC offers a free brochure called “Check for Safety: A Home Fall Prevention Checklist for Older Adults.” And here are the main tips, in a nutshell:
- Get rid of things you could trip over.
- Add grab bars inside and outside of your tub or shower and next to the toilet.
- Put railings on both sides of stairs.
- Make sure your home has lots of light by adding more or brighter light bulbs.
An expert voice on “aging in place”
The New York Times recently published an interview with Linda Shrager, the author of a new book called “Age in Place” and an occupational therapist with almost 40 years of experience.
“It’s cheaper to stay in your home, even if you have to make some renovations and get an aide a few days a week to help,” Shrager says. “It’s money well spent and a lot cheaper than assisted living. But it’s important not to wait until there’s a crisis — a parent falls and breaks her hip.”
A few of her suggestions that stand out:
- When you declutter, don’t keep a “maybe” pile of things that’ll just collect dust
- Use stools that don’t fold
- Cook with a toaster or microwave (since stoves or ovens come with more hazards)
- Install grab bars in the bathroom — one of the most hazardous rooms in the house
Safety can be stylish
Fortunately, products geared toward home safety have become more attractive in recent years. Here are a few trends and products we’ve spotted related to modern home safety:
- Industrial and practical home design (complete with dark or shiny metal touches) is en vogue, and you can find more stylish grab bars in more styles and colors these days — so your home doesn’t have to look like a hospital.
- Interior design shows like HGTV’s Fixer Upper and TLC’s Nate and Jeremiah By Design have featured home modifications, such as this schoolhouse-inspired bathroom for two brothers in wheelchairs and this chic bathroom with a walk-in tub and built-in step stool for a family of little people.
- People have created Pinterest boards full of ideas on everything from attractive wheelchair ramps to painted or stenciled floors (a neat alternative to throw rugs — a trip hazard).
- New wearable technology and “smart home”/voice-activated products are coming out all the time, so there are several safety devices that actually look attractive (many resembling jewelry).
Home modifications can get pricy, so check out this list of grants and resources from Home Advisor.
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