Tips for a safer home

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By Rose Chavez | PREVIEW Columnist

Whether you are an older adult aging in place or a family member caring for your elderly parent(s) in your home, it’s best to make any needed modifications throughout the house to senior proof (aka elder proof) the home so that it’s as safe as possible.

Senior proofing a home requires making changes to make the home safer and fall proof the home. It may require changes such as home modifications, rearranging furniture, installing adaptive equipment and possibly using monitoring devices. 

Most everyone wants to stay in the comfort of their own homes as they grow older and, for many, it’s a good idea, but only if the house is safe for the elderly people living in it.

The nine main topics to cover in senior proofing your home are:

• Fall proofing.

• Decluttering the living spaces.

• Assistive devices as needed.

• Techniques to compensate for memory problems.

• Fire-safety issues.

• Home security.

• Modifications to the home.

• Methods and tools to make daily tasks as easy and safe as possible.

By planning for these issues, you will help to ensure not only a safe environment for your aging parents, but you will also be making your life a bit easier as well. In this article, I will be focusing on the safety measures to make the home safer for your elderly parents, but the information applies to any senior citizen and caregivers of older adults.

Tips on fall proofing
your home

Reducing fall risks is one of the most important steps toward senior proofing a home. Fall proofing a home is different for every individual because every person has a different set of disabilities. 

It should be no surprise that falls are the leading cause of death, injury and hospitalization for seniors. There are multiple factors that contribute to falls in the elderly population. These include, but are not limited to, things such as:

• The amount and type of medications someone is on.

• Whether or not they have suffered a disease such as a stroke or Parkinson’s.

• Their visual abilities.

• Their cognitive abilities.

The important things that you do to help to fall proof your home will depend on these issues I mentioned above and more. In other words, senior proofing/fall proofing a home environment really is a very unique project for every single person. 

But, having said all that, there are three basic issues that should be addressed in all cases:

• Making changes to the environment either through home modification (i.e. converting a step-in shower into a walk-in shower).

• Adding adaptive equipment where needed using products like stair treads, decluttering living areas, etc. 

• Installing safety equipment such as motion sensors or light sensor night lights and using more sensible accessories such as shoes, anti slip mats, stair treads, grab bars, etc. 

Be aware of the medications your senior loved one is taking and the effects of those medications.

A visit to your local hardware store may be all that you need to get the necessary items to make your home a safer place.

Helping your parents to accept changes

When it comes to senior proofing a home, this most important task most often falls on the adult children of the aging parent. That can be a real challenge sometimes simply because it means that things have to change. And, for seniors (as well as many others), change is not very easy to do.

The most difficult aspect of change is the loss of control. That’s not just for anyone who is aging; that’s true for most everyone. But for the elderly, it’s much more acute. After all, they are probably already losing some independence, whether it’s physical or cognitive, and acknowledging the loss of even more in their lives can be very difficult.

For this reason, it’s very important to include your parents in the process as much as possible. This way, all of you are working together toward the best solutions to help keep them in the home.

It’s been my experience that this normally takes multiple conversations over many months, or longer. I recommend starting as soon as possible — don’t wait until the time when you have to make a decision. Make very small decisions, small changes, and go from there. 

Mather Institute virtual programming

Our virtual programs through the Mather Institute are designed to support your wellness journey, with opportunities to learn something new, connect and explore. We’re offering a new cycle of programs this month. 

Interested in art? Try one of these programs: In “Women History Forgot,” we’ll learn how the lives, emotions and art of women throughout history connect to our own, and talk about how their influence lasts to this day. Check out “Inquiry-Based Museum Experience” to explore creative topics including the connections between Civil War-era story quilts and current artists like Bisa Butler, whose quilts were shown at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2021.

You can sign up for any single session, or for a full four-part series — it’s up to you. We’re offering multiple times and dates for each program, so you can select what’s convenient for you. And we have a new registration process. Please browse https://www.mather.com/programs and click on any program to see options.

COVID-19 booster
vaccine clinic Nov. 4

Please join us for a drop-in clinic performed by San Juan Basin Public Health on Friday, Nov. 4, from 9 a.m. to noon at the Pagosa Senior Center, located in the Ross Aragon Community Center. Please call us at (970) 264-2167 to sign up for the booster so we know how many to plan for on the day of the event. 

Text reservations

Text us at (970) 264-2167. The Community Cafe is now accepting text messaging for meal reservations, cancellations and/or communication of any kind. When texting, please include your name, phone number and the days you want a meal. If you are calling to cancel a reservation, please include your name, phone number and the days you want to cancel. 

Texting services are available for dining-in meal reservations, Grab-n-Go meals and Meals on Wheels recipients.

Mobile food pantry service available for seniors

The Senior Center would like to remind the community about our mobile food pantry services we provide in partnership with Archuleta County MET to seniors age 60 and older throughout most areas of Archuleta County. 

In order to participate in this program, community members must visit with Barbara Noriega at the Senior Center, located in the Community Center, to fill out an application to qualify for hot meal delivery service and/or the mobile pantry service. 

The application, called the dining assessment form, is also available on our website at the bottom of the Community Cafe page: http://www.psseniors.org/community-cafeacute.html. For more information, contact us at (970) 264-2167.

Mahjong

Mahjong is a 19th century Chinese tile-based game that is commonly played with four players. Each player receives 13 tiles with a goal to make matching sets and pairs (like poker). To win, a player must form four sets and one pair. Come to the Senior Center to learn or play every Tuesday at 1:15 p.m. 

Medicare call by
appointment 

For anyone who needs help enrolling and navigating Medicare plans, we help with parts A, B and D. We can also help you with fraud concerns and troubleshooting any billing issues you may be having. By appointment only. Please call our Medicare line at (970) 264-0501, ext 4. 

Bridge 

The longest-played bridge game in Archuleta County takes place on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1 p.m. Bridge is a four-player card game with partners sitting opposite each other around a table. It is a trick-taking card game using a standard 52-card deck. Come alone or bring a partner.

Hand and foot
card game

Whether you are new to hand and foot or interested in learning, please join us Thursday at 1:15 p.m. at the Senior Center. This card game involves four rounds of playing until the final round is reached — some two to three hours later. Plan to stay and meet some new friends or catch up with those you have missed over the last couple of years. No experience is necessary so come willing to learn. 

Future programming
volunteers needed

We are looking to implement new programming in the future and want to rely on the insight and expertise of the community to expand our offerings. We are looking for volunteers to help us coordinate new games, crafts, wellness and intergenerational opportunities. If you are interested, please contact us at (970) 264-2167.

Archuleta Seniors Inc. board vacancies

The Archuleta Seniors Inc. (ASI) Board of Directors has multiple vacant positions open for financial oversight and policy implementation for the organization and Senior Center staff. Terms are three years with an option to renew for an additional term. Potential candidates should be at least 55 years of age or older and must have a passion for adult and aging services.

Community Cafe menu

Thursday, Oct. 27 — Crispy baked catfish with tartar sauce, sweet potatoes, garden salad, milk and strawberry-rhubarb cobbler.

Friday, Oct. 28 — Pasta primavera with Alfredo sauce, focaccia bread, garden salad, fruit, milk and carrot cake.

Monday, Oct. 31 — Chicken tacos, pinto beans, sweet corn, milk, salad, fruit and Halloween candy.

Tuesday, Nov. 1 — Meatloaf with gravy, mashed potatoes, peas and onions, salad and fruit.

Wednesday, Nov. 2 — Pork tenderloin with orange sauce, brown rice, stuffed mushroom, salad and fruit.

Thursday, Nov. 3 — Grilled cheese with tomato soup, chef salad and fruit.

Friday, Nov. 4 — Monterey chicken casserole, baked cauliflower, salad, fruit and cake.

Grab-N-Go meals

Grab-N-Go meals reservations and cancellations are required. Please call or text by 9 a.m. the morning of the day you want to pick up a meal. A suggested donation of $5 helps to sustain our program. No one will be turned away for their inability to donate. For ages 59 and younger, the cost is $10. Please call or text us at (970) 264-2167 to make a reservation.

Meals on Wheels

We deliver fresh Meals on Wheels five days a week (and provide frozen Meals on Wheels for weekends) to homebound Archuleta County residents. Call or text us at (970) 264-2167.

Requesting donations

ASI has an immediate monetary need to support ongoing operations and programming that provide critical services to some of the most vulnerable in Archuleta County. Please consider donating to Archuleta Seniors Inc. 

You may mail your donation to P.O. Box 3444, Pagosa Springs CO 81147 or please visit our website: http://www.psseniors.org/. Donation checks can be written to: Archuleta Seniors Inc. We are located at 451 Hot Springs Blvd. 

For more information about ASI, visit http://www.psseniors.org/.