The home which was ideal while you raised your family may now have safety issues as you age. An American Association of Retired Persons study showed that 90% of all older Americans preferred to remain in their homes as they age. Having your home reviewed by a qualified person for Home Safety is a very important element if this is your plan. Although there are numerous potential safety risks in a home (i.e., fire, poison, drowning, electrocution), falls are the leading cause of injury-related death for adults age 65 and older. One-third of older adults will fall each year and many will be admitted into the hospital as a result. Every 13 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall, and an older adult dies from a fall every 20 minutes. Falls can occur anywhere, but most occur in the home. Falls can be prevented and the home made safer for everyone.
Let us consider the bathroom with regard to safety issues. Think of the medications and cleaning supplies that are often stored in our bathrooms. They can be easily confused with other products and be used inappropriately resulting in poisoning. Lock them away or store elsewhere. Be sure if a rug is used, it has new anti-slip rubber backing and is low profile. Many people don’t turn on the light in a bathroom, but because there may be water or something on the floor, always turn on the light. Better yet, install a motion detector light switch to automatically turn the light on and off for you. An anti-scald feature on the shower faucet is also important to prevent burns, especially as vision decreases or confusion occurs about the knobs. A raised toilet seat is not only more comfortable, but helps those with declining strength or hip problems to remain independent. You may even consider having arm rests to help push up or for stability. Changing the tub/shower combo into a walk-in shower with little or no threshold may be important in preventing falls. Grab bars need to be at the correct height and location. Many think they only need one grab bar inside the shower, but this is not true. Depending on your bathroom configuration, grab bars should be placed inside the shower (two locations) and outside of the shower as well. A shower chair can help those who may become weak or are unsteady in the shower.
Home safety involves every room in the house, the garage and the exterior of the home. It involves (but is not limited to) smooth and clean floor surfaces (NO scatter rugs), rooms free of clutter, well lit areas, grab bars/railings in multiple areas where there are stairs or wet floors, working CO2 and smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, maintained concrete/pavers outside, and keeping emergency numbers handy (including doctor’s office, poison control and family members to contact).
If you would like a Home Assessment from one of our Geriatric Care Managers, call the office at (408) 356-9200 or (831) 476-2400 to speak with Dedra or Lois about your situation and to make an appointment that is convenient for you.
 National Safety Council – Injury Facts 2015.
ABOUT THE Litherland, Kennedy & Associates, APC, Attorneys at Law
Roy W. Litherland is an attorney whose practice emphasizes elder law and estate planning. Roy has practiced law in the greater Bay Area for over 35 years and is certified as a legal specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization. In addition to his extensive legal background, Roy was also previously licensed as a Certified Public Accountant. Although Roy has an extensive background in accounting, he retired his license to practice as a CPA to devote his time and energy entirely to the practice of law, specializing in estate planning, trusts, Medi-Cal planning, and probate. Roy is a noted speaker on living trusts, Medi-Cal Planning, and estate planning. He is a member and designated Fellow of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, an organization that fosters excellence in estate planning.
Dedra Jize joined the Litherland, Kennedy & Associates, APC, Attorneys at Law in February 2013. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy from San Jose State University and is a Certified Senior Advisor and Geriatric Care Manager. Dedra has worked as a Caregiver Support Coordinator and Activity Assistant for the Alzheimer’s Activity Center in San Jose, as a Foster Care Provider with Advent Group Ministries, and as an Occupational Therapist at Good Samaritan Hospital. Dedra works closely with our Director of Geriatric Care Management, Lois G. Tager, M. Ed., CSA, to help our senior clients and their families with Medicare issues, and Medi-Cal applications and representations. Dedra and Lois provide psycho-social assessments of health care needs, develop individualized plans for care, evaluate the specific needs of clients, and make recommendations when applicable for home care services, independent living communities, assisted living facilities, and nursing facilities. Their goal in working with clients is to advocate on behalf of the senior, and to enhance the quality of life of both the older adult and his or her family.
The Litherland, Kennedy & Associates, APC, Attorneys at Law is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform.