Seniors living the American dream at home have much to be thankful for, however, that can turn into a nightmare should their health require medications that impede their ability to get around the house. Modern medicine is able to provide a higher quality of life but seniors need to be aware of adverse reactions, especially if they are living alone (as 28% of the senior population does). When seniors take a new prescription, auditing its effect seems obvious. Auditing the home for the safety impact rarely gets considered. Additionally, seniors physical abilities diminish as they age so living alone becomes challenging to family members in terms of monitoring drug reactions.
These factors can contribute to an increased risk for falling which is why home safety is often an overlooked factor to longevity. Important features to consider when purchasing or updating a home for the long term don’t just include single story homes but the type of floor coverings, the access in and out of bathrooms, cabinet or storage design and hardware selection. Seniors need to begin the process of educating themselves by inspecting their homes with an eye on the flaws. The obvious trip hazards range from throw rugs to entry steps. Solutions vary from installing hard flooring to eliminating steps and creating ramps.
Risk assessments help identify needed solutions to ensure safety. The real issue is getting past the denial of improving the home because most people grow complacent in their surroundings. That comfortable recliner that doesn’t quite work right when you try to pull the foot rest up can cause serious issues with your lower back. That, in turn, leads to trouble walking and that’s where floor coverings (like throw rugs) can cause issues. Add to the mix a new RX and the potential for a fall increases.
Seeing the need for change requires a reality check. If you are not able to distance yourself then ask a friend, relative or hire an elder care professional to give an assessment. Statistics show that the cost of a short term stay in a rehabilitation facility run from $4000-$8000 for a few weeks. Compare that to the cost of a new laminate floor (less the pain) and you can easily see why seniors need to take measures to protect themselves. The desire to age in place, even to convalesce, is often overturned by the doctor in charge. That is reason enough to take a pro-active stance to ensure your own health and safety because the decision might not be yours if an accident happens at home.
Beth Moran is a Broker Associate with REMAX Gold in the Sacramento Valley of northern California. She has been selling real estate since 1999 and is a current member of the Sacramento Association of Realtors Professional Standards Committee. Beth holds the Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES), Certified Probate Real Estate Specialist (CPRES), and trained with Pepperdine University in Mediation and Dispute Resolution. Email Beth at: Beth@SacAgent.com