Small changes you can make to stay safe at home
By Meghann Finn Sepulveda
Staying healthy, active and independent are keys to successful aging, especially for those who want to remain in the comfort of their own home.
Sun Health at Home is a continuing care at home program offering a comprehensive set of benefits and services, including a personalized in-home safety assessment to create a well-prepared and more-functional living environment.
Accommodating changing needs
Many adults wish to stay in their own home as they age, but sometimes barriers may prevent them from safely doing so. Simple modifications can promote independence and maintain a more accessible home.
When Armand Paul moved to his Sun City West home, he knew a few adjustments needed to be made to greater ensure his safety. The active 93-year-old had already installed grab bars in the shower, but recently made a few additional modifications such as organizing his belongings so they were no longer hard to reach.
“I’ve recognized my limitations and know that I’m not as steady as I used to be,” he says. “Since I can’t use a step stool or climb a ladder anymore, I moved some items down from higher shelves for easier access.”
Armand also made the decision to join Sun Health at Home at the start of the year to ensure he could safely remain in his home as he ages. He scheduled an annual home-safety inspection, one of the many services offered through the Sun Health at Home program, which is available to members on a yearly basis or more frequently as needs change.
Linda Esparza, RN., and wellness coordinator for Sun Health at Home, conducts the home-safety inspections and remains in regular contact with each member to help coordinate outside vendors if any modifications are necessary.
Together, Armand and Linda reviewed his medications and carefully examined each area of the home looking for any obstacles or potential safety hazards such as uneven flooring, loose wires or electrical cords, and nonfunctioning smoke detectors.
“We use a comprehensive checklist to proactively identify any concerns and make safety recommendations,” Linda says. “Armand’s home has a great open floor plan and was already in good shape. He did an excellent job making modifications on his own, and I only had a few small suggestions.”
Installing a reliable home-alarm system, making sure your kitchen remains user-friendly, checking that stairway railings are sturdy and secure, and creating slip-resistant surfaces are all additional ways to reduce risks and create a safer home.
Addressing physical limitations
Each year, thousands of older Americans fall at home, many of them are seriously injured, and some are even disabled, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reports that falls are often due to hazards that are easy to overlook but easy to fix.
Following the in-home safety assessment, Linda advised Armand to clear away some clutter in the hallway to create more walkable space, add more lighting so he could move around the house at night, and secure area rugs to prevent tripping.
“Linda also noticed the step in my garage could be a potential trip hazard and suggested I place brightly colored tape on it to clearly mark the spot so it draws my attention,” Armand says. “I did that right away, and it has been very effective.”
In addition to the home-safety assessment, all Sun Health at Home members receive complimentary access to a preferred vendor list for trade professionals such as licensed contractors, legal advisors and home-health providers.
“It’s a nice feeling to know that these individuals and companies have been screened and are reputable,” Armand adds.
Today, Armand stays busy doing chores and completing small household tasks. He says he is happy with his decision to remain in his own home, which he has enjoyed for nearly 30 years.
“Although I’m self-sufficient, it’s reassuring to know that all my needs will be taken care of if the time comes,” he says. “Sun Health at Home has provided a sense of relief and allows me to confidently age in place.”