Whether you live in an apartment or a house, your home should maintain and protect your health – call it your port in the storm of life. Home should be the place where you are most comfortable. You feel safe there – happy and settled and surrounded by good memories and possessions. Home is a place of peace and quiet, and as we age, we tend to spend more time there. You should feel capable and in control in your home.
For some of you, a loved one may reside there, too. Perhaps a spouse or a partner of many years – or of a few – where you share one of the greatest of all gifts: companionship. For others, perhaps by choice or circumstance, you live alone. We all have different needs and preferences when it comes to our living spaces. But please, if you do live alone, do not let it be an excuse to become isolated. No matter our living situation, we all need to connect with others in order to be healthy. We need to make sure that it’s also a safe place and it’s not a hazard to your emotional or physical health … hazards that can land you in the hospital.
Let me help you become more aware of your living space. Our goal: make it as safe and healthy as can be. My career working in and with the health care system has given me an insider’s view of just what home hazards send people to the hospital over and over and over again. It’s time to slow this unnecessary parade of people to the emergency room. It begins with a home inventory. Let’s find the trouble spots around the house that you can easily correct and make safer on your own, and discover those that you may need a little help with.
Our house check-up begins with an honest room-to-room safety assessment. I want you to go from room-to-room and check for the following things and then take the appropriate corrective actions:
• Clear walking pathways of papers, books, shoes, and other clutter, especially along the route to the bathroom, which you use at night time.
• Check to see if your throw rugs are secure and if electrical cords are exposed in the walkways. If needed, use tack or double-stick tape as necessary.
• Check to see if there are secure railings on stairways. If not, have someone install or repair them.
• Make sure your home is well-lit, including night lights.
• Check to see if there are grab handles in the shower, tub, and toilet area. If necessary, have someone install them.
• Do you have non-slip mats in the tub or shower? If not, this is easy to correct.
• Check your sidewalks and driveway for cracks and uneven areas that could cause a stumble. If so, address this immediately.
• Do you use non-slip floor wax and are there any liquid spills that need to be cleaned up?
• While you are walking, look down at your feet: are you wearing flat shoes with rubber soles? Are you wearing slippery socks? You know what to do.
• Are you using dangerous ladders and chairs for hard-to-reach areas? Maybe it’s time to call for help from family or friends.
Home safety requires more than our room-to-room safety assessment. It also requires a safe YOU! So, here’s your check list:
• Have you had your vision and hearing checked lately? Perhaps it’s time for a check-up.
• Review your medications with your health professional to make sure they won’t affect your balance.
• Speaking of balance, have you been doing your balance and strength exercises regularly? Don’t fall off (no pun intended)!
• If at risk, find the appropriate fall alert device to monitor your safety.
To read more of my health tips, order your copy of my book, “The Doctor In The Mirror”.