Around the Island

Richard’s almanac: Safety first 

As I was looking through some home safety tips for older adults last week, I was reminded of a fall I took at home some 14 years ago. I was not even an “older adult” back then when I fell down the stairs. 

I was carrying a stand-up fan and tripped on the cord which I had neglected to wrap up properly and tumbled on the wooden steps. My head hit the steps and the newel post and there was blood everywhere. I was by myself in the house. My loyal Siberian Husky “Hank” was there, however. He came running when he heard the commotion and started licking up the blood that was pouring on the landing.

I was not unconscious so after I pulled myself up, I grabbed a towel and placed it on my head. Everything worked out well. I was able to call my daughter who came over and drove me to the doctor’s office. Dr. Marshall sewed up my wound and off I went. I felt lucky.

I know that there are situations when people fall and become unconscious and stay that way for some time. This is more apt to happen for those who live alone.

So if you do live by yourself, get yourself on the senior call list. Senior Center Director Laurie Fanelli will make arrangements to have someone call you each day to check in. It’s also good to wear one of those alert pendants in case of a fall. They get you help immediately. The Senior Citizens Foundation can help expedite the process for you to get one.

According to the Health in Aging Foundation it’s important for older folks to “safety proof” their homes.

Always make sure that all hallways and stairways are clear of objects. This seems like common sense but we tend to not use good sense all the time. Like also making sure that all parts of our homes are adequately lit up. Bright lights help older eyes see better. We should always use bannisters when using the stairs. It’s also wise to have a handrail installed against the wall.

What I did after my fall was round out the top of the newel post. I removed all the corners. I also had carpet professionally placed on the stairs so the steps were not so hard. 

The foundation has some guidelines on fire safety that include not wearing loose clothing or clothes with long sleeves while cooking. You should also replace appliances that have frayed or cracked electrical cords. Don’t forget to replace those smoke alarm batteries twice a year and never leave candles burning in an empty room. Besides there are new electronic battery- powered candles that flicker like the real thing. Use them for atmosphere. 

And there’s always a temptation to use a portable heater when the weather is extra cold. They should be at least three feet away from anything combustible and never be left on in an empty room.

Many accidents in the home happen in the bathroom; that’s why it’s so important to make this space hazard free. Have grab bars installed in the shower and near the toilet. Place rubber mats in the tub and shower to prevent slipping.

It is very wise to keep all emergency phone numbers near your phone if it’s a land line, or readily available on your cell phone.

We want to feel comfortable and safe in our homes and with common sense and good judgment we can make them that way.

Meanwhile, I thoroughly enjoyed Molly Neumark’s rendition of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” last Wednesday at the Senior Center. Molly was dressed as a witch and was the featured guest at the Halloween party. Most everyone there was in costume and rapt by her dramatic voice as she took us through Washington Irving’s classic.

The Halloween costume parade had many marchers with everyone seeming to have a good time.