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How to keep seniors safe in their own homes

ASK DR. MARION: MARION SOMERS, PhD


Dear Dr. Marion:

We spent the holidays at my mom’s house, and I’m getting concerned about her safety while living alone. She refuses to move out and is in fact quite capable, but I worry about the little things — a fall in the bathtub, safety when cooking, trying to maneuver in the dark in the middle of the night. What can I do make sure her home is safe?

Julie, 56, Atlanta

Dear Julie:

It’s so wonderful that your mom remains independent, but you’re right to think that a few extra steps need to be taken to ensure her safety when living alone. I’ve just partnered with Philips Lifeline to create an easy guide for this at www.LivingSafer.tv — you can download it and implement a few simple, common sense changes in minutes. Just make sure to do it together with your mom — involving your senior is the most important part of the process. After all, this is all about helping them maintain their independence. Here are a few tips to get you started:

* The bathroom is where 80 percent of home accidents occur. Avoid falls by adding non-slip strips to the tub/shower floor and non-skid mats to the bathroom floor, along with safety rails in the tub/shower and next to the toilet.

* In the kitchen, even the most savvy cook has had a loose sleeve catch on an open flame. Make sure your mom wears tight fitting sleeves when cooking, and remove towels and curtains that may be hanging nearby.

* Elsewhere in the home, one of my biggest pet peeves is throw rugs — they’re an accident waiting to happen! Remove them along with any other clutter that can cause a fall. Increase light bulb wattage throughout the house to improve visibility at all times.

Dr. Marion (Marion Somers, PhD) is the author of “Elder Care Made Easier” and has more than 40 years of experience as a geriatric care manager, caregiver, speaker, and expert in all things elder care. She offers practical tools, solutions, and advice to help caregivers everywhere through her book, web site, iPhone apps (Elder 411/911), cross-country speaking tours, and more. Visit www.DrMarion.com for more information.