by John Parker

Whether you decide to stay in your current home, remodel, or downsize, it’s imperative you make  your home safe and secure for your retirement years. Our generation is supposed to live, on average, much longer than previous generations, so it’s our responsibility to do everything we can to take care of ourselves.

As I wrote in a recent blog, a few months ago my best friend had an accident in which a ladder slipped and he took a terrible fall. He actually came very close to losing his life. Unfortunately, seniors have the highest mortality rate due to injury. Among those deaths, 50 per cent are due to falling. One-third of women eighty-five and older will be injured in a fall. For men, the statistics are only slightly less. The bottom line is: 1.6 million seniors are treated at hospitals each year due to falls. Half of those falls occur at home.

As my wife and I wrote in our book, The Best of Our Lives,  over the last few years we have gradually prepared our home for retired life. As somewhat recent retirees, we probably didn’t have to make every change so early in our retired life, but have been pleasantly surprised at how these changes have made  life much easier and more convenient.

While our book has a very complete list, here are some of the most important safety and security issues:

1. Get rid of clutter. Both the inside and outside of your house should to be cleared  of small objects that  might cause you to trip. Reconsider placement of low tables, plants, and other possible hazards. Keep your walking paths clear and reposition electrical and phone cords.

2. Inspect your living space and eliminate safety hazards. Remove or install slip-resistant backing on area rugs. Identify and repair cracks in flooring and find solutions for slippery tile. Eliminate sharp edges on furnishing and decorations.  

3. Inventory and update your kitchen. Consider replacing old cooking utensils with easy-grip types and one-touch bottle and can openers. Reorganize storage and place most frequently used items such as dishes at levels easy to reach. Always keep an updated fire extinguisher in a handy place.

4. Safety-proof your home and be prepared for emergencies. Install a security system and consider adding a “panic button” for emergencies. Keep flashlights and battery operated lanterns handy. Install motion lights, smoke alarms and nightlights. Keep a supply of water and canned food on hand as a backup. Strategically place telephones around your home and always have one next to your bed.  

Depending on your age, you may not need to make all of these changes right away. But over time, they will become more necessary for your safety and security. Some health care providers offer a service in which they will come to your home and help you with your safety and security issues.

Be safe, secure, healthy and happy.