Art of Aging: Home safety tips

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Thursday, September 17, 2015
VIDEO: Art of Aging: Home safety tips
Since many accidents can happen in the home, experts offer tips on how to stay safe.

Since many accidents can happen in the home, experts offer tips on how to stay safe.

Susan Christie, a physical therapist at Bryn Mawr Rehab has probably heard it all - the endless ways patients have been hurt at home.

More people are "aging in place " which means staying in their homes longer. There can be more injury potential, even in places we know by heart.

"We tend to have more visual problems, more hearing problems, and sensation problems, such as feeling in the feet," said Christie.

According the Centers for Disease control and Prevention, one in three older adults' falls each year. But fewer than half talk to their health care provider about it.

For people past the age of 65, falls are the leading cause of injury.

Christie adds, "Once a person has had one fall, that's a really strong predictor for falls in the future."

And even the best of us lose some muscle strength, so we can't recover from a slip or wobble like we once did.

But Christie says small changes can help prevent falls, bumps, and bruises for any age.

"Adding lights to stairwells, adding lights to dark places, having a nightlight in the bathroom," said Christie.

In the kitchen, make it easy on yourself.

"We suggest that people keep their most commonly used items between shoulder height and knee height, so they're not stretching excessively or bending too far," said Christie.

And that includes microwave ovens. It's much easier to get hot, or heavy items in and out safely.

As for the range, front controls will keep you from reaching over red-hot burners and steaming pots.

In the living room, Christie says make sure the couch is firm and has a armrest.

And, of course, grab bars in the bathroom are a good move, too.

Also get a vision check, and take stock of your medications. People who take 4 or more are more likely to fall from side effects or drug interactions.

Exercise to improve strength and flexibility. There's evidence Tai Chi can improve balance.

We have more safety tips and links to more resources in our Art of Aging section.