"There"s no place like home," which is why 87 percent of adults age 65 want to stay in their current home and community as they age. The neighborhood in which I live has many folks who"ve been here for several decades, generously sharing their wisdom and memories with the next generations. Experience tells us, however, that risk of injury from falls and difficulty with transportation are 2 challenges older adults face when wanting to remain in their homes.Modifications such as installation of grab bars and stair railings, walk in-shower conversions, and removing some interior doors and all throw rugs can make mobility easier in traditional homes built prior to the concepts of accessibility and single-level living. There are also new, simple technologies to help keep aging adults safer in their homes.Enhanced lighting is an important improvement to make. As we age we rely disproportionately on vision for balance; walking around in poorly lit spaces is similar to walking around with your eyes closed. It is essential to have well-lit paths in the bedroom, hallways and bathrooms at night. Plug-in, light-sensing LED night-lights illuminate dark spaces in older homes which result from limited natural or overhead lighting, and few switch controlled outlets for lamps. The new lights turn on automatically when needed, are energy efficient, and require no replacement bulbs. Their low wattage provides adequate light without disrupting normal sleep.Unfortunately, home improvements have not eliminated falls. In June the National Council on Aging reported 1 in 4 adults over age 65 fell in 2017; 55% of those falls occurred inside the house, and 23% occurred outside but near the house. With 85% of people over age 65 now owning a cell phone, many older adults living in the community opt not to purchase a separate emergency alert system, intending instead, to use their cell phone to call for help if needed. But Murphy"s law says that the one time it"s needed will be the one time it"s left resting on the kitchen counter out of reach from the floor. Someone is rarely without their watch though, making it readily available in the event of an emergency. Gizmo-Gadget, by Verizon, is a watch with a very basic cell phone inside. It uses single touch dialing to call a limited number of contacts. The Kurio Smart Watch, and similar devices available through retailers such as Amazon and Walmart, calls select numbers by connecting to the user"s separate cell phone via bluetooth technology. We recommend testing signal range in and around the home before relying on either as a safety device."
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