• Cathy Borg

Get Organized to Age in Place: Live Longer in the Place You Love!

Updated: Apr 4, 2019





“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”

Pablo Picasso


Live Longer in the Place You Love: Organizing for Aging-in-Place.

Whether you are planning to remain in your home for the foreseeable future or planning to move, there are some measures you can take to ensure that you increase your chances of living longer and happier because your space is safer. So regardless of whether you’re staying or going, all of us can benefit from increasing our awareness of potential hazards and how we can minimize or eliminate them.


Do you know what are the greatest causes of accidental deaths in the home for seniors 65 plus? Statistically the greatest risk to seniors are fires and falls and falls are the #1 leading cause of accidental death for seniors. In fact, each year 1 in 3 seniors will fall at least once.


These are scary statistics and most certainly none of us want to be one of them. Thankfully, in most cases these are preventable accidents. What it requires is some knowledge and “elbow grease” to put safety measures in place to avoid these home accidents.


So, what are the steps you can take to be safer in your home? A good place to start and one that doesn’t require renovations or serious investment of equipment is simply clearing clutter and organizing rooms to ensure that your home is a haven not a hazard. But before you begin, let’s take a look at the places in your home that need to be accident proofed.


Regarding fire prevention, it is important to know why and where it is most likely to occur. I’m sure you can guess the #1 place for a fire to break out in the home? That’s right – 50% of fires start in the kitchen.


Take a look at the following list of other places that have the greatest risk of fire from greatest to least:

1. Kitchen

2. Bedroom

3. Chimney

4. Livingroom

5. Laundry room

6. Outside

7. Attic


Knowing where a fire is most likely to occur is helpful but what of the causes? Again, I bet you’ve guessed the main cause of fire. That’s right it is cooking, but what of the others? Well, take a look at this list.


The Main Causes of Accidental Fires in the Home:

1. Cooking

2. Heating Equipment

3. Electrical Equipment

4. Carelessness

5. Open Flames

6. Appliances

7. Smoking


As you can see, many of these potential hazards could be avoided by using good common sense and eliminating clutter and arranging furniture to maximize safety.


Some Simple Suggestions for Fire Prevention:

· Make sure there’s nothing flammable near an open flame or hot element.

· Replace frayed cords.

· Minimize the use of extension cords and don’t run them under rugs.

· Clean out chimneys, vents and laundry lint.

· Plug Space heaters directly into outlets (not extension cords) and not touching any piece of furniture or flammable item.


Now to the leading cause of accidental death among seniors in Canada - falls. Not only are falls the leading cause of death but also the leading cause of injuries accounting for more than half of all injuries among seniors. The causes of falls are tripping, slipping and losing your balance.


When it comes to places in the home where they most often occur the Bathroom is #1, then the kitchen and then the stairs. And when it comes to minimizing falls - eliminating clutter and organizing rooms is a huge help. Basically, you are looking for anything that could sabotage your movement, anything that might trip you up, cause you to slip or put you off balance.


Simple Tips to Decrease the Risk of Falling:

Kitchen

  • Organize for easy, safe storage and access. Make sure you store your heavy cook wear at the same level between ‘your eyes your thighs’. Make sure you can see it and get it!

  • Eliminate throw rugs.

  • Organize cupboards so that the things you use most frequently are easy to reach.

  • Have everything within reach so you don't need to climb.

  • If you must climb, use a stable step stool with a safety rail.

  • Wipe up any spills - liquid or food immediately to prevent slipping.

  • Keep chairs pushed in under tables; cupboard doors and drawers shut so that you do not run into anything.

Stairs

  • Have handrails on both sides of the stairs.

  • Make sure stairs are properly lit.

  • The top and bottom of stairs are common landing spots for articles going upstairs or coming downstairs. Have a container that is not in your path to hold these items and Don't put things on the stairs.

Bathroom (the #1 trip and slip zone)

  • Install grab bars and non-slip mats in the tub and shower.

  • Use a non-skid bath mat.

  • Install a night-light in the hallway and bathroom.

  • Wipe up moisture or spill immediately.

  • De-clutter that medicine cabinet and dispose of expired medicines and cosmetics (take them to your pharmacist for disposal)

Living room

  • Leave generous space so you can move safely around furniture.

  • Make sure electrical cords are out of the way.

  • Ensure furniture and lamps are steady and stable.

Walkways and entryways

  • Shoes are the #1 clutter culprit in the entrance way. Proper storage is essential. Place a chair near your entryway to help you when you put on and remove your boots.

  • Make sure your steps and walkways are free of debris and clutter.

  • Large furniture should be moved out of the main traffic areas. Take floor lamps and small items off walkways.

So why not take a look around your home in particular the areas discussed and put some ‘elbow grease’ into de-cluttering and organizing to create your 'safer' haven. Of course we know that these things are all common sense. But for myself I know I can always use a good reminder. When it comes to living safely longer in your beloved home, eliminating clutter and getting organized is the ounce of prevention that saves you a pound of cure.


I’d love to talk with you more so please leave your comments below or call us and see if we can be of help.


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