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As you winterize your home, “futurize” it, too!

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Work future-focused modifications into routine home maintenance to reduce effort, cost

By thinking beyond just making it through another winter, you can address some other tasks around the home that will help ensure your home is safe and accommodating for years to come.

Falls are the leading cause of emergency room visits, hospitalizations and deaths among older adults. A single fall can radically change a relatively healthy person’s life for the worse. As we age, activities we once took for granted may take some effort. Likewise, our homes, which may have provided a safe haven for years, now may present some real safety hazards that could lead to falls and other injuries.

The good news is that falls are not a normal part of aging and that most falls can be prevented with small changes in your activity and environment. Here are some examples of things you can tack onto your fall to-do list with little added cost or effort that will have a lasting impact on your safety and security.

 

When you winterize…

You can also futurize…

Doors and Windows

Replace weather stripping and caulking; repair broken glass; seal drafts.

Replace door knobs with rocker-level type door latches that are easier to see, grip and turn.

Garage

Clean and reorganize to make room for your car in order to keep it – and you – out of the elements as much as possible.

Add handrails or grab bars to both sides of the steps going from the garage to the house.

Front porch

Cover or store outdoor furniture; rake leaves; clear walkways of debris.

Add handrails to steps; paint the front edges of steps to improve visibility.

In the yard

Remove the garden hose and store inside; turn off outside faucet.

Attach a garden hose hanger to the house or post near the faucet; change faucet handle to an ergonomic design.

Gutters and downspouts

Clean out debris; clear path for downspout’s flow.

Add gutter toppers and downspout splash guards for better drainage away from the house, sidewalk and steps.

Bathrooms

Repair dripping faucets; check grout; check slow moving drains.

Install a comfort height toilet; replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent (CFL) or halogen light bulbs; install grab bars in tub/shower area.

Flooring

Clean carpet in the house; change entrance rugs.

Inspect carpet for wear and tear and replace or secure as needed; securely attach entrance rugs and throw rugs to eliminate slipping.

 

If you aren’t able or can’t afford to take on these projects, there may be organizations in your community that can help. Ask your local area agency on aging, city or county office on aging, community action center, senior center or local United Way office about available programs in your area.

Here are a few more simple and inexpensive solutions to fall-proof your home:

      Arrange furniture so you have a clear pathway between rooms.

      Place a lamp, telephone or flashlight near your bed.

      Install a night light along the route between your bedroom and the bathroom.

      Keep electric, appliance and telephone cords out of walkways, but do not put cords under a rug.

      Secure loose area rugs with double-faced tape, tacks or slip-resistant backing.

      Store food, dishes and cooking equipment within easy reach.

      Repair loose stairway carpeting or wooden boards immediately.

      Put a bright-colored stripe of durable tape on the front edge of each stair so that you can see them better.

      Place a slip-resistant rug adjacent to the bathtub for safe exit and entry.

      Use a rubber mat or place nonskid adhesive textured strips inside the tub.

By futurizing this winter, you will be ready for many, many seasons in the coming years.

 

John R. Ratliff is the Assistant Chief of Communications and Government Outreach for the Ohio Department of Aging.

STEADY U Ohio is a comprehensive falls prevention initiative led by Governor John Kasich and the Ohio Department of Aging, and supported by state government and business partners to strengthen existing falls prevention activities, identify opportunities for new initiatives and coordinate a statewide educational campaign to bring falls prevention to the forefront of planning for individuals, families, health care providers, business and community leaders and all Ohioans. Visit: http://www.steadyu.ohio.gov/