Many times senior citizens do anything they can to keep their independent living arrangements as long as they can. However, as people age one of the biggest health risks comes from being alone in your home. Brian McDonald, owner of Synergy HomeCare NE Metro explained those risks. “One out of three seniors will fall any given year, and the numbers are staggering,” McDonald said. “Every 15 seconds one is admitted to an ER within the United States; every 29 minutes one dies.”
Minnesota has one of the highest fall rates for seniors in the nation causing more than 600 fatalities a year. McDonald works with seniors to help keep them independent by making their homes a safer environment.
“We’re looking for extension cords; we’re looking for throw rugs, the best thing to do with a throw rug is throw it away,” he said. “We’re looking for adequate lighting, we’re looking for handrails, we’re looking for if you have stairs in your home that the stairs are marked, the top and the bottom with bright tape…We’re looking for the top things that are risks.”
Rita Olson in Blaine who has suffered numerous falls over the last several years; Rita shared one story of a particularly bad fall. “I was trying to get to the TV to shut it off, and as I turned around, I tripped on the leg of this chair, and down I went so fast; it happened so fast,” she said. And Olson still deals with the consequences of that split second fall. “I’ve ripped off the main cords that hold the shoulder together and then damaged the inside one, so all I’ve got is the outside one,” she explained.
Olson admits that she worries about falling all the time but now that she has learned how to make her home more fall proof she has the confidence that she is living in a safe environment. And, McDonald cautions family members of seniors that just because an individual has never had a fall before that does not mean their house is safe. “The families forget about it sometimes,” he said. “They think ‘Oh mom’s always had a throw rug there, she can keep it there.’ Well now mom is shuffling with her feet, she’s not stepping as securely as she used to. A lot of times it’s overlooked, because you think that’s the same home they had last week, and the year before, and 20 to 30 years before that. But now there’s a different person living there, someone who’s not as sure footed, someone who in a split second can lose their balance, and due to whatever circumstance can fall and break a hip.”
With being more mindful about the environment around them and making some simple lifestyle changes seniors can achieve two important goals. “It’s really about their safety, and staying in their home,” McDonald said.