Observing the safety hazards in a senior’s Minneapolis home is one thing. Living them is another. According to research conducted by Home Instead, Inc., nearly 100% of emergency room doctors in the U.S. and Canada report that the following health conditions are very serious risk factors for injuries or accidents at home:
- Confusion or Dementia
- Balance Issues
- Mobility Problems
- Poor Eyesight
- Impaired Motor Skills
Try putting yourself in a senior’s shoes. Difficult? Perhaps this will put things in perspective: As time goes on, the effects of aging could impact all senses including hearing, vision, taste, smell and touch. These sensory changes often affect a senior’s lifestyle as well. This domino effect, of sorts, might make a senior vulnerable to safety issues in the home. Poor eyesight, for instance, could make it more difficult to see a throw rug, safely use a knife to cut an apple or take the proper dose of medication.
Aging’s Effects on the Five Senses
The following describes how aging can compromise the five senses:
Touch: Decreased blood flow to nerve endings as we age can reduce the sense of pain and temperature.
Sight: By the time someone is 60, pupils decrease to about one-third the size they were at age 20. Add to that aging-related eye conditions such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
Hearing: Our ears control hearing and sense of balance, both of which can be compromised as we age.
Taste: We start out with about 9,000 taste buds. They decrease in both number and mass with aging.
Smell: Sense of smell can diminish, especially after age 70, because of loss of nerve endings and less mucus in the nose.
Making Home Safer for Seniors with Diminished Senses
It’s possible to counteract the effects of aging by being proactive. As we mentioned in our post Senior Friendly Home Adaptations, 100% of emergency room doctors surveyed say it is very important that adult children perform a safety check of their loved one’s home once per year, yet only 44% have done this. A little extra help at home could be just what a Minnesota senior needs to stay safe. In fact, doctors estimate that 61% of seniors in the U.S. who come to the emergency room could benefit from more care at home. What are the most unsafe areas of the home for seniors? Bathrooms and bedrooms lead the way, according to a survey of ER doctors. Physicians say that injuries are most likely to happen in these areas of the home:
- Bathroom – 69%
- Bedroom – 13%
- Kitchen – 9%
- Stairs – 5%
100% of ER doctors, 85% of adult children and 94% of seniors agree that falls are the most common home accidents for older adults. So what can older adults who want to stay at home do? ER doctors in the U.S. and Canada are unanimous. One hundred percent agree that an annual home safety check is very important to a senior’s home safety. But do you know which rooms in the house pose the greatest danger for your aging loved ones? Explore the everyday items that could become hazards to seniors as they age at home. Discover the ways you could help older adults safeguard their homes by completing a room-by-room safety check. This checklist explores nine areas rooms of the home, including the bedroom, bathroom, living room, hallway, kitchen, laundry room/basement, garage and front yard.
So, too, can having additional help around the house. An estimated 97% (99% in Canada) of ER doctors report that not having help at home with activities of daily living is a very serious risk factor for accidents or injuries at home. Check out this interactive, virtual safety tour.
Then, download this infographic to learn more or to share.
It’s not always easy to understand the physical limitations older adults face that could make home a virtual minefield for an aging parent. With resources and help from Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis, your senior loved one has a much higher chance of remaining safe and independent in their Minnesota home for as long as possible.