Summer has just begun, and many are beginning to emphasize getting outside and spending time with their friends and family. While this is an exciting time of year, it is important to continue to focus on safety for those who have difficulty with their mobility. Lack of exercise throughout the cold winter months and wet spring months often leads to falls out in the community during summer months, as people have become de-conditioned due to lack of activity.
If you’ve followed us for a while, you know that Oakley Home Access believes that being proactive and taking care of problems before they cause injury is the best plan. While family members and friends are the first layer of help for older loved ones, Oakley Home Access is also here to help. We offer our Free Home Safety Assessment and if needed, we can install grab bars, ramping system, or even a vertical platform lift for outdoor ease.
Here are some Summer Safety tips to keep in mind this season.
Clothing, Shoes, and Assistance
When venturing out into the community for walks, gardening, or other leisure activities, ensure that loved ones carry their cell phone or other alert devices to ensure that they can request assistance in case of emergency. Additionally having adequate water and food for outdoor activities can help to prevent dehydration and fluctuations in Blood pressure/blood sugar.
Supportive shoes are a must when navigating the outdoors. Summer activities often lead us to walk through grass, gravel, and hilly/uneven surfaces. It is important to utilize shoes with a non-slip, treaded sole. Flip flops are recommended to be avoided for our clients with mobility impairments as well as those with diabetes or neuropathy. Flip flops or even poorly fit shoes can lead to abrasions and skin breakdown, which unfortunately can lead to a plethora of future issues.
Another important tip for summer safety is to work as a team! Being with family and friends is a great way to ensure safety as well as enjoy your time outside. Additionally don’t be afraid to utilize an assistive device such as a cane, walker, walking stick, or even wheelchair if needed. Knowing your body and its strengths/weaknesses is critical, and never be embarrassed or self-conscious about using the necessary equipment. Your safety is paramount!
Things To Do Around the Home
Taking time at the start of summer to inspect the exterior of your home is critical to summer safety. Some important things to consider include inspecting your entrance railings and decks for weathering. Over the winter months railings and decks could rot or rust leading to safety deficiencies. Another important thing to consider is that you have clear pathways to your destinations outside. Leaves from the fall, fallen branches, and other debris should be cleared out of your path to ensure you can safely navigate to your destinations. Finally, always ensure proper lighting is available outside. Motion sensored lights near doorways, on porches, and near doorways can ensure proper visibility when navigating at nighttime.
Other Home Modifications To Consider
If stairs are difficult to manage, a ramp might be the answer. Oakley Home Access can help if this is the solution that you choose. We also provide ramp rentals for short-term needs such as family or friends visiting.
For wheelchair users, we can also install Vertical Platform Lifts to increase outdoor safety and mobility.These tools are perfect for use in smaller spaces where a ramp might not work.
Making Homes “Visitable”
Visitability is defined as a home (usually a single-family home) that is designed in a way or modified in a way that can be lived in or visited by people who might use adaptive equipment and/or have trouble climbing stairs. There are several home modifications that can make an existing home significantly more “visitable” and in-turn, much more inviting.
A growing trend is also to build new homes with visitability in mind, however most individuals in need are not in that position and are modifying what they have. Some homeowners or adult children may feel that aging in place is a far-off goal, however, making these changes and upgrades now may be worth considering for the future. Also consider that having a ramped entrance will significantly help with child strollers and wider doors help with furniture moving. Visitability modifications truly benefit everyone!
Doorways with at least 32-inch passage space are ideal. Swing-clear hinges can allow for an additional 2-inches of clearance.
One bathroom on the main level with large enough space to maneuver a wheelchair is ideal. Regardless of space, grab bars in the shower and toilet area are recommended.
Replace towel racks in bathrooms with secure grab bars. Towel racks are tempting to grab onto for stability. Grab bars are designed for stabilization and can hold towels at the same time.
One barrier-free entrance utilizing a ramp. Often temporary ramps can be set up in garage entrances.
Sturdy bilateral railings on entrance steps and bilateral handrails on all interior stairways.
Well-lit walkways and clear pathways throughout the home including hallways, next to each bed, and at the top & bottom of any stairwell. As we said above, well-lit exterior walkways are a must.
Removable bed rails are great to temporarily modify a bed in order to maximize mobility into and out of bed.
The team at Oakley Home Access is committed to helping our community have a wonderful and safe summer season, regardless of age or ability. If you know that your aging parents or grandparents might have a difficult time coming over and the stairs to enter are the primary barrier, Oakley Home Access can help make your existing structure visitable with our ramp rental program. If you are considering more permanent options with the goal of aging in place, we can also discuss ways in which we can help with many other home modifications.