Home Updates & Handyman Services That Can Save Your Life (And Your Wallet)

It’s Christmas time in Mississippi and my 75 year old aunt is decorating the house for Christmas dinner. Well, Aunt Sis might only weigh 90 lbs soaking wet, she is independent, healthy, and impatient. She decided to get a folding chair to stand on to finish hanging those lights. She had done it before and thought it unnecessary to wait for help or at the very least use a ladder. So instead of Christmas dinner, we visited my Aunt Sis in rehab where she was recovering from her broken hip. I thought if only she hired a handy man, or had a sturdy step stool, or why didn’t she wait for family to help.  

No one can anticipate a fall in the moment. Especially if someone is over the age of 55 and living alone. Putting supports in place around the home can be the difference between a bruise and a broken hip. By taking these simple steps to modify your home with safety as a precaution. You’ll be patting yourself on the back and thankful you had the sense to ask for help now, rather than after a fall. Also, Aunt Sis could have saved money and time by avoiding the hospital bills, surgeries, and therapy to help her recover.

Home modifications for fall prevention

In a period of four years (2014-2018) there were 24,000 hospital discharges all related to falls, and over half them occurred in the home. Falls are mostly preventable and usually occur in your home environment. If you’re over the age of 55, start by installing safety features and removing fall hazards. These simple modifications to your home environment will help prevent falls or lessen their impact. Research shows that educating people about falls and prevention is the best way to reduce falls. Yet we believe the best prevention of a fall is not only resources, but offer tangible ways to modify home environment in the first place. 

First, get a home safety assessment ….

Occupational and physical therapists are uniquely qualified to come into the home and recommend modifications that will help prevent falls. These assessments are uniquely tailored the individual and their unique health conditions.

The cost of a home safety assessment

Home modifications are not a one-size-fits-all, so pricing can vary. Yet, a home safety assessment usually costs between $150-200. If your insurance or are ineligible for a grant to cover the costs, private pay options are available for home safety assessments. Other types of financial assistance may be available. Check the resources mentioned in Is Your Home Ready For Aging In Place? Ask An Occupational Therapist

Receive A Home Safety Assessment by a Physical Therapist in Tucson, AZ

If you live in Tucson, Arizona consider the following physical therapists and contact them to schedule a safety assessment at your home.

Secondly, hire a handyman!

Learn from my Aunt Sis and just hire a trained professional to make modifications and/or hang the Christmas decorations (picture frames, move the dresser, put in the grab bars). Also I recommend the following points that are found in the Eldercare.ACL.gov when hiring a contractor:

  • Make sure the contractor is licensed, bonded, and insured for the specific type of work.
  • Check with your local Better Business Bureau and Chamber of Commerce to see whether any complaints against the contractor are on file.
  • Talk with family and friends to get recommendations based on their experiences. Contractors with good reputations can usually be counted on to do a good job again.
  • Ask for a written agreement that specifies the exact tasks and timeline.
  • Your agreement should outline the total estimated cost and require only a small down payment. The terms should require balance payment when the job is completed.
  • Consider asking a trusted friend or family member to help you review the contract and/or monitor work throughout the project.

Some safety modifications may include, but are not limited to: 

  • handrails for outside steps and internal stairs
  • other minor repairs to outside steps
  • repairs to window catches (to avert falls from windows)
  • grab rails for bathrooms and toilets
  • adequate outside lighting
  • high-visibility and slip-resistant edging for outside steps
  • fixing the lifted edges of carpets and mats
  • placing non-slip bath mats or stickers
  • slip-resistant surfacing for outside surfaces such as decks
  • installation of smoke alarms
  • wheelchair ramps
  • Installation of furniture heightening devices. 

Local Resources: 

ElderHealth members receive a 20% discount. If you are not an ElderHealth member, mention that you read the ElderHealth blog and get a 10% discount!

Simple home updates that you can do yourself! 

More home modification resources and brochures can be found on the Eldercare Locator.

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