What’s one thing that everyone in the world is going to become? OLDER! It’s not the passage of time that makes it so hard to get older. It’s ageism, a prejudice that pits us against our future selves — and each other. Ashton Applewhite urges us to dismantle the dread and mobilize against the last socially acceptable prejudice. “Aging is not a problem to be fixed or a disease to be cured,” she says. “It is a natural, powerful, lifelong process that unites us all.”
It starts between your ears: how do you feel about your own aging? What messages have you absorbed over the years? Look at where they come from. Think about what purpose they serve. Learn about longevity. Start a consciousness-raising group. Question the mainstream narrative. Speak up when you encounter ageist behavior or attitudes. Join forces with olders and youngers to make ageism as unacceptable as any other form of prejudice — and to dismantle them all.
America’s seniors and senior service providers throughout the country will join to celebrate National Aging in Place Week from October 15-21, 2017. National Aging in Place Week is an annual effort to expand awareness of the Aging in Place movement and the availability of the means for seniors to remain in their homes for as long as they would like.
“Aging in Place” refers to our ability to live safely and comfortably in our homes as we get older, often to the very end of our lives. Homes that are suitable for aging in place are those that are “accessible” to us as our mobility decreases. Accessible homes include those on a single story that remove the dangers and effort of climbing stairs on creaky legs. Multi-level homes with a master bedroom on the first floor, as well as homes with elevators or stairlifts, are also suitable for aging in place but tend to be more costly than single
story homes. Other features of accessible houses include the absence of stairs to get in or out of the house, good lighting, wide doorways for walkers and wheelchairs and walk-in showers or baths.
Purposeful aging in place has grown in popularity and celebrated by the National Aging in Place Week and the National Aging in Place Council that promotes the positive outcomes of older adults having a choice in their care and living arrangements. In addition to Certified Aging-In-Place Specialists (CAPS) there are many more professionals trained to fill the growing need in this service model for older adults such as the Senior Home Safety Specialist™ designation offered by Age Safe America.
Industries that have special programs or certifications include Real Estate, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Relocation specialists. Many communities are now fully engaged and committed to exploring ways to better serve older adults by developing action plans that address future needs and ensure that the necessary services are in place when they are needed. Recognizing that a home is filled with memories and is more than just a place to stay, companies are engaged in accommodating the elderly for years of comfortable living. These companies provide comprehensive services ranging from household cleaning to occupational therapy to assist in maintaining maximum quality of life.
There are many things adult children of seniors can do to make their parents’ homes safer and more accessible, regardless of how much — or how little — the family can afford to spend.
No-Cost or Low-Cost Modifications
De-clutter: Seniors tend to have accumulated a lot of possessions over the years, but too many belongings can put them at risk for falls. Remove clutter so that rooms are as sparse as possible.
Re-organize: Put the items your parents use often in the most accessible places. This is especially important in the kitchen and bathrooms.
Adjust lighting: Nightlights can be placed throughout the home (especially in hallways and bathrooms) to improve visibility. It’s also a good idea to replace low-wattage light bulbs with high-wattage bulbs.
Reduce slip risk: Help fall-proof your parents’ flooring by securing rugs with non-skid pads or tacks and using non-skid wax on the floors. Wet floors in bathrooms are also a major slip risk for seniors. Slip-resistant rugs are perfect for bathrooms because they won’t move even when the floors are wet.
Safe-T-element Cooking System: Once installed over the stove top, this device will shut off burners if they’re accidentally left on and get too hot.
Security poles with curved grab bars: Install these next to the shower, toilet, couch and/or bed to help your parents safely rise, sit, and get in and out of difficult-to-navigate spaces.
Ramps: Parents who use a wheelchair or have mobility issues will especially appreciate this ease of access to and from their homes…and inside their homes.
Stair lifts: These mechanical devices will safely transport a parent up or down stairs on a seat that attaches to a track that’s installed on the stairs.
Walk-in tubs: These tubs have a door that opens so seniors don’t have to step over the side to get in or out. They also usually come with a built-in seat and grab bars for safe bathing.
Sensors: Incredible new technology — in the form of sensors placed throughout the home — can help you keep tabs on how your elderly loved ones are doing. If your parents interrupt their daily pattern of behavior (such as not getting out of bed or not returning from a trip to the bathroom), you can be notified.
Age Safe America Declares Grab Bars Are The New Seat Belts
In a press release issued earlier today Age Safe America urged greater adoption of grab bars to reduce preventable injuries and the rising costs associated with older adult falls. There was a time many didn’t think seat belts were necessary either.
The story of seat belts seems to mirror grab bar usage in that of convincing America’s aging demographic to use them. With grab bars, an often heard misconception is, “they look institutional”. In recent years that old argument has been glamorously overcome with a myriad of tasteful and decorative designs and colors, including various finishes such as brushed nickel and polished chrome. Today even basic bathroom accessories such toilet paper dispensers and towel racks have been redesigned with ADA compliant weight capabilities. Grab bars prevent falls and potential injuries by allowing a person to “grab” them during an emergency or in case of dizziness or loss of balance. Getting up and down from the toilet seat or in and out of the shower can be a real challenge when age, balance, strength or a disability are an issue.
“We passionately believe there is simply no excuse not to take charge of fall prevention measures in your own home or an aging parents home. Falls have become epidemic in America, resulting in injury, long-term disability and premature loss of independence. Installing grab bars is an obvious solution to preventable injuries.”
Age Safe America joins the National Council on Aging in observing the 10th annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day (FPAD) on Sept. 22, 2017—the first day of fall. In honor of this notable milestone, the theme of the event will be 10 Years Standing Together to Prevent Falls. This event raises awareness about how to prevent fall-related injuries among older adults. The official social media hashtag for this year’s event is #FPAD2017.
Groups in the Atlanta area took First and Second Place in the 2017 Falls Free® Photo Contest. Over 40 photos were entered nationwide, and competition was extremely tight. The winning photos and stories depict older adults participating in falls prevention programs around the country. First Place went to Asbury Harris Epworth Towers/Wesley Woods Senior Living, “One Foot Forward” in Atlanta. What doesn’t kill us will make us stronger!That’s the motto of older adults in this falls prevention class. Stronger means stronger arms, legs, and knees—and learning how to take control of their bodies by how they think, how they move, and how they react.
Second Place was awarded to the Cobb County Government in Marietta, GA. “Pop Up Tai Chi”You might have heard of the “pop up” restaurant trend.Cobb County Government in Marietta, GA, used this free and innovative idea to break down barriers around exercise and the generations. Pop Up Tai Chi opened the door for intergenerational physical activity to promote a healthy community for all residents of Cobb County.
Falls threaten older adults’ safety and independence and generate enormous economic and personal costs. Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for people aged 65+. Falls can result in hip fractures, broken bones, and head injuries. Even falls without a major injury can cause an older adult to become fearful or depressed, making it difficult for them to stay active. However, falling is not an inevitable result of aging. Through practical lifestyle adjustments, evidence-based falls prevention programs, and community partnerships, the number of falls among seniors can be substantially reduced.
If you have an aging parent, grandparent, or neighbor in your life, helping them reduce their risk of falling is a great way to help them stay healthy and independent as long as possible. The good news about falls is that most of them can be prevented. The key is to know where to look. Here are some common factors that can lead to a fall:
Balance and gait As we age, most of us lose some coordination, flexibility, and balance—primarily through inactivity, making it easier to fall.
Vision In the aging eye, less light reaches the retina—making contrasting edges, tripping hazards, and obstacles harder to see. New research suggests hearing loss can also contribute to the risk of falling.
Medications Some prescriptions and over-the-counter medications can cause dizziness, dehydration or interactions with each other that can lead to a fall.
Environment Most seniors have lived in their homes for a long time and have never thought about simple modifications that might keep it safer as they age.
Chronic conditions More than 90% of older adults have at least one chronic condition like diabetes, stroke, or arthritis. Often, these increase the risk of falling because they result in lost function, inactivity, depression, pain, or multiple medications.
As part of fall prevention measures, there are several simple and affordable modifications such as lighting and non-slip surfaces that can easily be done by homeowners or family members yet provide immediate safety benefits to residents and visitors. First get rid of anything you or your lived one could trip over. Make sure the home has lots of light by adding more or brighter light bulbs. Modifications such as adding grab bars inside and outside your tub or shower as well as next to the toilet, or adding railings on both sides of a stairwell or in a hallway may best done by a qualified handyman or contractor.
Falls in older adults are predictable and preventable. There are many organizations and individuals working hard to increase awareness of the issue and encourage action to prevent falls and injuries from falls. The 10th annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day will be observed on Sept. 22, 2017—the first day of fall. Throughout the month of September Age Safe America will be joining national advocacy groups around the country in raising awareness about how to prevent fall-related injuries among older Americans. National, state and local groups, communities and individuals are standing up and taking steps to prevent falls in older adults. Visit the sites below for additional information and resources.
Smart technology has found a place in virtually every room in the home, even the one where we take care of our most low-tech needs. In fact, thanks to innovations like sensor-operated, self-cleaning toilets, moisture-sensing ventilation fans and digital shower controls, it’s possible to turn an ordinary bathroom into the brainiest room in the house.
If you’re ready to upgrade your bathroom with the latest smart technology, here are five elements to put at the top of your must-have list:
From showerheads with light and sound, to digital temperature and water pressure controls that you can set from your smartphone, an array of high-tech features is available to elevate the simple act of getting clean to the level of a luxurious, high-tech experience.
You can find something for every preference. Love to shower at night? Install a showerhead that features its own lighting. Dislike fiddling with the controls every morning to get just the right temperature? Opt for digital temperature controls that allow for multiple pre-settings for individual users. Focused on conservation? Try a showerhead that senses what you’re doing — washing your hair, shaving your legs — and automatically adjusts the water flow accordingly.
A toilet that cleans itself is a dream come true for many people, but TOTO boosts the intelligence of its NEOREST AC wall-mount toilet even higher. The intelligent toilet features a WASHLET personal cleansing system that uses warm, aerated water for comfort, a warm air dryer and a heated seat. An automatic opening and closing function and auto-flush ensure you never have to touch the toilet.
The toilet keeps itself (and the environment in your bathroom) clean with a flushing system that uses an environmentally friendly combination of gravity and high-speed water jets to spin away waste, while an in-bowl catalytic deodorizer helps keep the air fresh. The bowl itself is glazed with titanium dioxide and zirconium, which when activated by the toilet’s integrated UV light, creates molecular reactions that help keep the bowl free from visible and invisible waste.
Not only will you not need harsh detergents to clean the toilet, it’s is also WaterSense labelled, and uses just 1.28 gallons per flush (gpf) for solid waste and 0.9 gpf for liquid. Visit www.totousa.com to learn more.
Bathroom ventilation fans serve practical and cosmetic purposes. Ventilation removes moisture and humidity that could promote the growth of mold and mildew, and can help exhaust unpleasant odors. Of course, not everyone puts ventilation to its optimum use, and that’s where a new style of bathroom fan comes in.
Ventilation fans that sense humidity — such as after someone has taken a long, hot shower — turn on automatically to help remove excess moisture from the room. Some fans can communicate wirelessly with wall switches or with an app that allows you to control the fan from your smartphone.
Mirrors and medicine cabinets aren’t just for reflection anymore. Now you can kit out your smart bathroom with mirrors that feature built-in TVs and can communicate with your home’s security cameras, and medicine cabinets with defogging features that can let you get to your post-shower shave faster.
Refrigerated medicine cabinets are perfect for preserving delicate drugs and cosmetics, and you can find both mirrors and medicine cabinets with built-in USB ports for charging your devices.
Of course accessories can be additions that put any bathroom over the top, and you never have to settle for ordinary accessories in your smarter bathroom. Enhance the usability and convenience of your bathroom with items like:
* A small robot that mops floor tiles automatically.
* A Bluetooth-enabled toothbrush that communicates with your smartphone to monitor how well you’ve brushed.
* A smart scale that helps you track your weight and health progress.
* Touch-free soap dispensers.
* A towel rack that uses hot air and ultraviolet light to dry towels and keep them fresh longer.
By upgrading to tech-savvy versions of everyday bathroom elements like toilets, faucets and showers, it’s possible to make your bathroom not only one of the most-used rooms in the house, but the smartest as well.