Nearly half of senior home accidents are preventable, ER doctor survey says

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EAST PROVIDENCE — Home to a significant number of seniors and eldercare facilities, East Providence residents are likely to be interested in a recent study conducted by healthcare professionals in regard to preventing injury to those of us 65 and older.

Nearly 20 million seniors ages 65 and older visit the emergency room each year with almost a third of the visits related to injuries*, many of which are sustained in the place seniors are meant to feel the safest: their home. In fact, 65 percent of senior homes have at least one potential safety issue, according to adult children of seniors surveyed by Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care network. However, almost half of all home accidents by seniors (48 percent) can be avoided according to a recent survey of emergency room doctors.**

These preventable home hazards, such as throw rugs or loose railings, can be particularly harmful, leading to falls and injuries that can impact seniors’ ability to live independently. However, the majority of seniors (85 percent) haven’t taken any steps to prepare their homes for their changing needs as they grow older.

“The home should be the safest and most comfortable place for aging seniors,” says Gary Leiter of the Home Instead Senior Care office serving Rhode Island. “It is critical for families and seniors to invest the time in identifying the necessary home safety modifications to ensure it stays that way.”

Senior home safety experts recommend that adult children of seniors take at least one day each year to perform a thorough safety check of their parents’ home. To help families accomplish this goal and help seniors reduce the risk of injury in their own homes, the Home Instead Senior Care office serving Rhode Island is offering free home safety checks conducted by local senior care experts.  The safety checks will be provided at no cost on a time-available basis.

“An annual safety check can help seniors avoid dangers that could threaten their independence,” said Leiter. “When we go into homes, we see a lot of red flags that are easily overlooked by those who are familiar with the home. Most of the time, these are relatively easy and affordable fixes-and they could be the difference between a trip to the emergency room and staying safe at home.”

The most common issues found in seniors’ homes are tripping hazards, bathrooms without assistive equipment, such as grab bars on the shower or tub, and storage that’s too high or too low. A free home safety checklist, online safety assessment and recommendations for inexpensive modifications that could ensure the safety of older loved ones are also available at www.makinghomesaferforseniors.com.

These free safety checks and support resources are part of Home Instead Inc.’s broader Making Home Safer for Seniors program. To request a free home safety check or the home safety checklist, please call the local Home Instead Senior Care office at 401-667-2923.

*Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; **Survey Methodology: In the United States, Home Instead, Inc. completed 600 telephone interviews with seniors age 65 and older, and 600 telephone interviews with adult children who have parents age 65 or older. The sampling error for each population is +/-4.0% at a 95% confidence level. Home Instead, Inc. also conducted five-minute telephone interviews with 100 emergency room physicians randomly selected from throughout the United States.

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