How do you picture the “golden years” of your life? —— Perhaps you imagine doing that power walk around the block, playing cards with your friends and family, and enjoying a serene moment with a cup of tea and a sunrise in your own home.
Danger Lurking in the Shadows
Aging in place is one of the best gifts one can receive in old age. However, there are many obstacles to it. One of which is fall risk. Every year, seniors fall, which is a major concern due to the severity of injuries and potential costs that can be involved. However, the problem doesn’t lie within seniors themselves but often within their homes.
But you might be thinking, “but it’s my house, how can it be a hazard?”. Yet, this is not a question of whether there are home hazards, rather, how much of it are you not aware of– from a loose rug to a slippery floor- the dangers of home hazards are all too real.
What seemed safe and “okay” around the house, will eventually turn into hazards over time due to changes in vision or strength as one approaches senior years. It can also create emotional and physical strain on top of that. It is yet another reminder of how bad it is for your health if you suffer repeated impacts. But you can get ahead of this!
A Practical Intervention
Home Hazard Removal Program (HARP) is an interdisciplinary collaboration that aims to reduce fall risk among seniors.
Dr. Susan Stark et.al conducted a study on The Effect Of Home Hazard Removal Program In Community-Dwelling Older Adults At Risk Of Falling. Participants were composed of 310 randomly selected older adults with a high risk of falling. The program includes home safety modifications as one of the pillars of intervention. This includes minor repairs such as installing grab bars, task modification, using assistive devices, and education. The intervention group received a home hazard removal assessment and modification, whereas the control group did not receive any intervention. Both groups were followed for 12 months for fall-related injuries and possible improvement on their quality of life.
The components of the intervention include:
- Standardized tailoring where seniors have control over the type of home modifications they prefer
- Self-Management strategies where seniors are educated on fall hazards and help them build self-awareness
- Motivational Enhancement Strategies to help them better embrace the idea behind the program
Another research in 2008 analyzed the elements of effective intervention, which are also integrated in this study. They are:
- comprehensive assessment of the individual and the characteristics of his/her immediate environment
- standardized assessments
- consideration of the performance of the individual within the home
- follow-up and support
All of which can be summarized into a simple equation:
TAILORED APPROACH+BEHAVIORAL STRATEGIES+ENVIRONMENTAL SUPPORT= REDUCTION OF FALL RISK
The program has been shown to reduce the rate of falls by up to 38%! Moreover, cost analysis found that the intervention is potentially cost-effective in terms of health care savings as it yields over 100% ROI.
That sounds pretty good, right? Imagine…the risk of falling is reduced significantly, which means as you age, you stay in your own home longer. Your independence is preserved. And your quality of life improves. Now, that’s a pretty sweet deal!
However, while HARP is strongly recommended by the American and European Geriatrics Society, this program is not yet a standard approach in the US because of “lack of evidence” and its effectiveness is still unknown. The good news is we’re seeing Home Hazard Removal Program grow in acceptance among health professionals in the US as a solution to helping reduce fall risk among seniors.
A Decision to Make, An Action to Take!
Since falls are associated with many adverse outcomes among seniors, effective fall prevention programs should be adopted into caregiving practices to reduce the incidence of falls among seniors and improve their independence. It is important that older adults are not placed into homes that are beyond their ability to negotiate because of risks and limitations. Structured programs like the one presented aim to maximize participation so that older adults do not feel threatened, but are empowered to live a long, happy, and independent life.
In addition, it is crucial that we address these concerns early on and provide the necessary resources to ensure seniors are safe and comfortable living at home. However, program sustainability will be critical to its success since the challenge will be to maintain the behavior changes the program instills in the long term.
When you and your loved ones are looking for a way to age in place, it’s important to consider your home hazards. Don’t let your loved ones fall victim to risky conditions in their own home! Take the first step toward helping your aging family member improve the circumstances of their living space. The next few steps will be easier on them, and on you.
Imagine a world…
…where your back doesn’t hurt and you can pick up anything without straining …where you save tons of money on treatments, medicine, and a lifetime of doctors’ visits
…where you’re as adventurous and confident at 80 as you were at 60
…where you can make big plans at every stage of life and go after them with gusto
Making changes at home can mean the difference between an active life and an inactive one.
There is no need to accept the fact that aging means frailty or that you will fall just because you are older.
Fall prevention starts in our own home… with you… right now.
Let Us Join You In Your Journey!
Being able to stay in your own home for as long as possible, not having to settle for senior care―that’s something people dream about. And it doesn’t matter if you need just a little help or a lot―we can work with anyone. We create solutions that strengthen families and transform lives.
- Physical Therapists
- Occupational Therapists
- Home Health Care Professionals
- Case Managers
- Social Workers
If you have any other questions, concerns, or feedback, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We are always excited to hear from you, and ready to help in any way that we can.