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Achieve senior independence with safer home

Published On: Feb 25 2013 11:13:53 AM CST
Father, son

(NewsUSA) - Elderly safety is a considerable problem in the U.S. as millions of seniors go to the emergency room each year due to injuries caused by accidents in the home. Falls are a leading cause of these mishaps. Yet, with proper equipment and knowledge, risk can be cut dramatically.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says one out of every three adults over age 65 falls each year. Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries, and in 2008, almost 20,000 older adults died from fall-related injuries in the U.S.

Houses can be potential battlegrounds for seniors as they navigate rooms, hallways and stairs. Here are some ways you can help ensure a safer home:

• Clear the clutter. This goes for countertops, end tables, hallways and beyond. Clutter of all sizes can make for hazards in such places as the kitchen and bathroom, and should be removed.

• Get frequent visual exams. Poor eyesight is a leading cause of senior falls and can make it hard to navigate homes safely. Check your prescription yearly to ensure it's still accurate.

• Equip bathroom with showers/baths designed for older adults. Since 80 percent of senior falls happen in the bathroom, seniors can maintain independence longer with the use of walk-in baths built for elderly adults.

• Participate in moderate exercise. Staying active is one of the best ways to maintain balance, strength and mobility -- as long as you don't overdue it. The CDC suggests Tai Chi or relaxed yoga for balance, and weight-bearing exercise is also helpful because it increases bone density for seniors suffering from osteoporosis.

Livestrong.com encourages dumbbell swings -- dumbbells may be substituted for grandchildren, pets or groceries -- and exercise routines using resistance bands.

• Install grab bars throughout the home. The most obvious space demanding grab bars is the bathroom, next to showers, baths and toilets, but they're useful in other rooms, too. Grab bars help you climb stairs safely, traverse long hallways or use the kitchen more easily.