A recent near-tragedy reported by the Globe and Mail should have many older adults taking stock of their living arrangements and safety precautions, especially if they reside alone. A 69-year-old Bradford, Ontario woman was rescued last week by police after being stuck in her bathtub for nearly three days, unable to get up.
The situation this woman found herself in might be more common that one would expect but by taking a few simple precautions, could have been completely avoided. Families of older adults aging in place can help keep their loved-ones safe in their homes by installing grab bars in the bathroom and removing tripping hazards such as throw rugs, cords or clutter from floors. Setting up a daily call system or signal like opening the drapes each morning where a neighbor can see, are easy, unintrusive steps seniors can take to avoid going days needing help.
According to Age Safe America, many incidents of falls among seniors go unreported and unrecognized by family members or caregivers. And while 90 per cent of older Americans say they want to age in place, nearly 85 per cent have done nothing to prepare their homes for future needs.
Advocating for yourself in old age by putting in place a plan can often mean the difference between living independently with some help and suffering serious illness or injury that leads to a move into assisted living or long-term care. Accepting housekeeping or personal care assistance, meal delivery or an emergency alert system allows seniors the dignity of remaining at home without causing unnecessary worry for families or the need for police to break down the door when someone realizes they haven’t been reachable for days.
Many communities are also embracing a lock-box system for emergency responders to have access to a key to the homes of older or disabled adults living alone; they can gain entry if someone reports a concern without needing to damage property.
For a complete home safety checklist and home safety videos, use the Toolkit tab on The Oldish’s home page.