Staying home safely in your elder years

Deb Winterhack
Agnesian Health Shoppe Stair Lift

I have had the honor of working in long-term care for a great many years. Most of the time, residents who moved into an assisted-living were people who chose to move. They had been fearful of living alone, they were declining in health, or they simply chose to live in a community where many amenities were provided for them that had become difficult at home. But, there were some whose decision to move into an assisted living or nursing home was not their choice.

Due to some unfortunate accident, many people are placed into a long-term care situation they weren't prepared for. In most of these cases, the move to a long-term care facility was prompted by a recent fall, fracture and hospitalization.

The good news is that many falls can be prevented. Falls are serious and costly. One out of five falls causes a serious injury, such as broken bones or head injury, causing 2.5 million older adults to be treated in an emergency department. More than 700,000 patients each year are hospitalized due to a fall injury, including hip fractures. Ultimately, falls are one of the leading causes of a forced move to a long-term care or rehabilitation setting. And, many people who have had falls are more cautious, and are afraid to venture out and can become very socially reclusive.

Research has identified many conditions which contribute to falling. These risk factors can be minimized to prevent falls. Some of those risk factors include lower body weakness, Vitamin D deficiency, difficulties with walking and balance, use of medications and vision concerns. Home hazards - such as rugs or clutter, lack of hand rails along stairs or in the bathroom and the dangers of stairs - can be a major cause of trauma and hospitalizations in the elderly.

Many times a simple home modification is all you need - a grab bar in the tub,  a stair lift to get you from one floor to another or ramp to get in and out of your garage. It's the simple modifications that can help you to have peace of mind for you need. If you've been feeling that you are unable to access many parts of your home, a stair lift can get you safely from one floor to another, for less than the cost of one month in assisted living.

Many of us will choose to live in a long-term care community and enjoy this style of living with all of its wonderful benefits. But some of us will not be able to choose. With falls out numbering car accidents as the cause of death in Wisconsin, we need to be prepared and proactive and take care of those things that can keep us safe.

The Agnesian Health Shoppe provides the resources you need to stay home safely. Call the Agnesian Health Shoppe at (920) 926-5277 today to schedule your free home consultation today.

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