Fall Clean-Up Has Become One of My Favorite Days of the Year

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CICOA sponsors its 13th Safe at Home Sept. 16

Every 11 seconds an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall, according to the National Council on Aging. That’s a staggering statistic. Yet so many falls can be prevented. While we know one in four seniors will fall every year, there is no statistic about the number of seniors who limit going outside, because they fear falling on porch steps or because their once manicured shrubs are overgrown and blocking their way.

CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions and its partner First Horizon Home Health Care are teaming up for the 24th annual Safe at Home Event on Sept. 16, where we’ll help improve the safety and accessibility for 21 seniors’ homes on Indy’s northeast side.

It’s my favorite day of the year at CICOA, because I get to see firsthand how a few hours of kindness will improve the quality of life for a senior. It warms my heart to hear the joy in seniors’ voices as they share their stories about how a repaired porch railing means they can now safely walk outside, or how a ramp means they can get out of the house more to see friends or family. They’ve told me at past events how something as simple as the addition of a grab bar has made it possible for them to safely bathe.

Their eyes sparkle when they talk. Some tear up. Simple acts of kindness can be life-changing.

CICOA board members, employees, community volunteers, and staff from First Horizon Home Health Care and other sponsors will all come together to clean up yards, trim shrubs, install grab bars and finish a host of other tasks with the goal of making homes safer for seniors, so they can age in place.

You can support the work of our Safe at Home program by donating here.

Tips to prevent falls at home

Regardless of whether you are able to take part in this year’s event, I encourage you to take an inventory of your own home or a home of an older family member, friend or neighbor to ensure they aren’t at risk for falling. Here’s a simple checklist:

  • Brighten dark rooms. Dark or poorly lit rooms can make it difficult to navigate, so replace any burned-out light bulbs. If you have low-wattage bulbs, when possible, replace them with higher wattage bulbs. Consider adding plug-in nightlights to help illuminate bathrooms, hallways or stairways.
  • Secure rugs and carpets. I remember my uncle making a big deal about tacking down frayed carpet at my auntie’s home in Atlanta many years ago. He explained he was afraid she may fall. I watched as he repaired the carpet, something that’s stuck with me throughout my life. If replacing worn or frayed carpet is not in your budget, make sure you tack it down or keep it covered. If you have throw rugs, make sure they are secured, so you don’t slip as you walk on them.
  • Make bathrooms safe. Consider replacing low toilets with higher ones and install grab bars by the toilet and shower.
  • Secure loose railings or banisters. While you walk around the house, check to see if railings on the stairs – inside and outside – are secured.
  • Consider the safety of transitioning from indoors to outdoors. If you or your loved one needs to hold on to something to get inside or outside, then consider adding a grab bar or railing to make the transition easier.
  • Keep things within reach. You may want to consider re-arranging items in the kitchen so the items you use most are within easy reach.
  • Clear the clutter. Pathways need to be clear and free of clutter, so you don’t trip and fall. If the task seems daunting, ask a friend or relative to come by to chat and go through stacks of mail, books or other items.

Nearly 90 percent of people aged 65 and older say they want to remain in their current home for the rest of their lives. The challenge is that, often, their homes are not designed for aging. But, with some simple fixes, you can make a home safer to age in place.


Handrails and grab bars prevent falls

CICOA President and CEO Tauhric Brown
Tauhric Brown

As President and CEO, Tauhric Brown uses his strategic vision and experience in the elderly and disability service industry to expand CICOA services and collaborative partnerships to better meet the needs of the vulnerable populations we serve. Before joining CICOA, Brown served as the chief operating officer for Senior Services, Inc. in Kalamazoo, Mich. His career started in the U.S. Army, and then he became a successful owner/operator for a multi-carrier wireless retail company. Inspired by his family and upbringing, he made the switch to the nonprofit world to fulfill his dream of improving the lives of others.

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