Guest Post by Pat Lund
Twin Cities Habitat Staff
Falls are the number one reason aging homeowners need to leave their home for alternate living situations. One out of four older people falls each year resulting in 2.8 million emergency visits, 800,000 hospitalizations, and a cost of $31 billion dollars in health care annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Less than 4% of homes are suitable for a person with moderate mobility difficulties (CDC). Common challenges facing older homeowners: chronic physical issues, difficulty moving through their home, loneliness, lack of transportation, and finding resources for assistance. Many are over-housed, on a fixed income with limited solutions. Yet, most older homeowners want to remain in their homes, which for many is the best solution for their situation.
That’s why Twin Cities Habitat’s new Age in Place program will partner with older adults to modify their homes so they can have a safe, affordable place to continue to live. Examples of modifications we will provide include: grab bars, improved lighting, raised toilets and non-slip floor coverings. Our research found that these relatively low-cost modifications will have a high impact on creating a safer living space for older homeowners to successfully age in place.
There are a few simple things you can do today to prevent falls in your home before working with our Age in Place program for the bigger fixes (tips from the Mayo Clinic):
- Secure loose rugs with double-faced tape, tacks, or slip resistant backing, or remove loose rugs from your home
- Use nonslip mats in the bath or shower
- Remove boxes, newspapers, and other clutter from high-traffic areas
- Place nightlights in bedrooms, bathrooms, and hallways, and keep flashlights in easy-to-access locations
However, creating a safe living environment is just part of the solution to help senior homeowners successfully age in place. If someone has a modified home but can’t access food or transportation to get to an appointment or visit friends they will have a difficult time remaining in their home for long. That’s why Habitat is working to form partnerships with other in-home service providers to create a multi-service approach to better meet the needs of aging homeowners and improve their ability to age in place. We are reaching out to healthcare, transportation, meal service, referral assistance and other agencies to have a bigger impact on helping older adults continue being successful homeowners.
You may know an older adult who is struggling to continue to live in the home and community they’ve grown accustomed to and love. Join Habitat in helping these and other older homeowners with modifications to stay and thrive in their homes. For more information on how you can be involved in our Age in Place work contact Pat Lund at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further reading on fall prevention:
- Bipartisan Policy Center: Fall Prevention Starts at Home
- The Brookings Institution: Dramatically reducing the number of elderly falls is within reach