Aging in Place: We all wish to retain as much independence as possible for as long as possible and safety is paramount as we age. Many accidents occur in the home due to trips and falls and there are some simple ways to prevent accidents within the living space – such as installing more effective lighting to ensure objects can be seen more clearly or adding grab bars for extra safety in places such as the bath or shower.
Accidents can really derail a senior’s independence and health so it is best to keep the house as free from clutter as possible to allow easy movement around the home. The most common accident for seniors in the home are falls so removing any trip hazards and storing cables safely can prevent injury. Carpets should always be checked to ensure that they are laid properly with no loose edges which could pose a risk and throw rugs removed or secured.
To do a quick review of your home’s safety and home health areas for preventing falls, we recommend you grab our Falls Prevention Checklist. If you (or your aging parent) live in the Clearwater/Largo, Florida area or throughout Pinellas County, give us a call at 727-448-0900 to arrange a free, home health assessment.
The Problem of Stairs
Many seniors choose to live in a one story home such as a bungalow as this can allow easy access to every room. Fortunately, for seniors in Florida and especially in our area of Pinellas County such as Clearwater Beach, bungalows and one-story homes are more prevalent than multi-story homes.
However, not all seniors have this option and many people are living in their long-time home which they do not wish to leave and which has multiple stories. Stairs can be a problem as people get older and mobility is limited. Even with exercise some seniors find it difficult to tackle stairs and they can pose a real fall hazard. If you or a loved one has to climb stairs in the home, make sure: lighting is adequate, stairs are deep enough (should be at least 11 inches deep, even and in good repair), surface is not slippery (carpeted or with non-skid covering, which is even and well-attached), handrails are sufficient and stable, and clutter is removed.
A stairlift is another option which may be useful for seniors with limited mobility in homes with stairs. Our colleagues from Stannah Stairlifts have offered some basic information and answers to typical questions about stairlifts for our readers:
What is a stairlift?
A product such as a stair lift can be incredibly useful within the home. The user sits in the chair comfortably and uses the appropriate seatbelt to secure them before ascending the stairs in comfort and safety.
Some seniors love their home and don’t wish to move to another property so a range of stair lifts are available to ease the transport from one level to another with various functions such as ergonomic seats provided to maintain good posture.
Who needs a stairlift?
Stair lifts are not only available for those in their later years; they can be used by any individual who struggles with their mobility. The installation of a stair lift within a home is quick and simple and often takes a matter of hours. Many stair lifts are custom and once installed can be easily folded away.
If you receive physical or occupational therapy at home, you can ask your therapist about stair lifts and other home health equipment to assist with mobility and safety. A geriatric care manager can also provide a full home assessment with myriad recommendations as well as help with budgeting and resources.
How much do they cost?
Initial costs vary depending on the type of stair lift and there are a wide range of options. Stairlifts are not typically covered by Medicare, but it is important to consider overall costs and options. Sometimes putting a stairlift in to place or getting a little help at home can prevent further problems and save you long-term, higher costs.
When it comes to operating costs it is roughly $7 a year to keep a stairlift running which means that it is incredibly cost effective. If for any reason the stair lift is not working properly there is a great deal of comfort in knowing that a 24 hour response call out service is usually provided. Check about this when making the decision to purchase. You can also invest in insurance to protect the stairlift from damage and some services allow you to rent the unit rather than paying for it outright if budgeting is an issue.