Jennifer Edge with the Fairfax Area Agency on Aging (Adult and Aging Services)
She started with a slide show on what you can do to increase your safety in the home and in the community. There are affordable ways to do this with help from County agencies. Louise had her house checked for ways to make it safer and had a second handrail added to her stairway. Jennifer showed a graph which explained how injuries in the home increase drastically after age 65. One-third of older citizens experience at least one fall a year. Exercises, especially ones that help with strength and balance, can help prevent falling. Speak to your doctor about what exercises are best for you.
Proper lighting is very necessary, especially at night. Have your eyes checked at least once a year, and be sure to have night lights in your bedroom, bathroom, hall and a lighted stairway, if necessary. Avoid wearing bifocals when going down the stairs.
She also brought up the matter of medications; check with your doctor or pharmacist to see if you are taking them correctly and at the right times.
We all need to de-clutter our houses. Ask a friend or family member to help with this or go to the website – www.soothingspaces.com, for help or suggestions. Be sure to move everything off the stairs so you won’t trip over anything, and have walkways clear in case of an emergency. Clear off your kitchen counter (we all know how cluttered that can become) and make a “to keep” and “to throwaway” pile. Set up a basic file system with labeled folders for all your important information.
Don’t rush! Get up slowly and take your time. Don’t hurry to answer the phone or doorbell – let the answering machine do the work. Take your time getting to the door – people will wait. Some common causes of falling are loss of balance, falling out of bed, falling on the stairway, slipping on slick floors, slipping on ice or snow, loss of strength in your legs, and poor eyesight. Some things that might help your home environment would be to install a tub bench, grab bars, maybe in several places. Try to keep slippery leaves off your walkway and paint your outside steps with some kind of florescent paint or use non-skid tape inside to make them stand out, especially at night.
To prevent slips and slides, clean up spills right away. Be cautious about floor surfaces, especially in the bathroom and kitchen. If possible, install (or have them installed) grab bars near the shower to help you get in and out. Do not depend on towel racks or soap dishes – they might not hold. A grab bar can double as a towel rack, but a towel rack cannot double as a grab bar! We need to be careful about our footwear – try to wear shoes that have a non-slip sole. Remember “safety before beauty” when it comes to footwear. In the kitchen, move hard to reach items to a more convenient place.
Remember, the County offers exercise classes, workshops on fall prevention, nutrition, consultation on medication management, in-home consultation to identify safety risks, and minor home safety modifications. All are free to county residents.
The next series of spring activities will be held in Mount Vernon on Mondays from April 12 – May 17. Contact Jennifer if interested.
The phone number for the Agency on Aging is 703-324-7210. Or, go to