2 posts tagged “wheelchair safety”

Home Safety Month: Pointers for “aging in place”

Posted June 29th, 2018 by

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.”

(When you join PatientsLikeMe, you can report and track falls as a symptom on your profile and see what others have said about falls and fall prevention here.)

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:

Home modifications can get pricy, so check out this list of grants and resources from Home Advisor.

Have you had a fall lately? Any questions, thoughts or tips on home safety you’d like to chat about with the community? Join PatientsLikeMe and this forum discussion today!

Share this post on Twitter and help spread the word.


Creating Wheelchair Awareness Through Photos

Posted October 18th, 2011 by

For someone who uses a wheelchair, there are barriers and hazards everywhere – things that others may not see. But how do you raise visibility of the issue?

Wheelchair Barrier 1:  A telephone pole occurs every 100 feet in the middle of sidewalk in Gamma's neighborhood, preventing those using wheelchairs from passing.

One of our longtime MS members, gamma, decided that a photo essay of the obstacles that exist in her neighborhood (considered a wheelchair-friendly community) and others would the best way to illustrate the problem. “My hope is that when this presentation is completed I can get it into the hands of people that can use it to raise awareness about unsafe situations for the wheelchair or stroller user,” she says.

Wheelchair Barrier 2:  This intersection has no "sloped curb," therefore anyone using a wheelchair cannot get from the street level to the sidewalk level.

What’s an example of a hazard or barrier? Wheelchair users at PatientsLikeMe – who number more than 1,300 and use both powered and manual wheelchairs – report having difficulty with potholes, cobblestone entrances, uneven sidewalks, narrow aisles, yellow bumps on ramps, heavy doors and more. But it’s easier to “see” these hazards and barriers than just list them. That’s why gamma is calling for photo submissions.

Wheelchair Barrier 3:  Many homeowners do not realize that putting their trashcan in the middle of the sidewalk blocks access for wheelchair users.

Have you encountered something in your neighborhood that would pose problems for a wheelchair user? Snap a photo to aid this grassroots patient project. Then send it to shalegamma@aol.com along with your full name for credit. Thanks in advance for your contribution!