In addition, families with aging parents should take advantage of
family gatherings during the upcoming holiday season to talk to
their parents about what it takes for them to continue living
"Most people want to remain in their homes and
neighborhoods as they age. But as needs and abilities change, our
environment and our habits may need to change too," said Lisa
Hardcastle, president of the Illinois HomeCare and Hospice Council.
The council's "Focus on Five" safety checklist covers five danger
areas -- pathways, bathrooms, kitchens, stairs and home entryways.
The checklist includes:
1. Ensure that pathways to and from their homes provide safe
Install bright lights and use night lights.
Secure rugs with nonslip backing.
Keep electrical cords out of the way.
2. Ensure that bathrooms offer fundamental safety aids.
Install grab bars in tubs and showers.
Use a nonslip mat or install adhesive safety strips in tubs and
If using a bath mat on the floor, choose one that has a nonskid
3. Ensure that home kitchens have safe cooking areas and that
food is not expired nor stored near cleaning supplies.
Make sure the stove is free from flammable objects such as
towels, potholders and curtain cords.
Store cleaning products away from food.
Pay attention to food expiration dates: "When in doubt, throw it
4. Ensure that stairways have safe railings and are clear to walk
Consider installing handrails on both sides of the staircase.
If handrails are already in place, make sure they are secure.
Keep steps clear of clutter.
5. Ensure that entryways are well lit and free of uneven surfaces.
Adjust lighting. It should be bright, but without glare.
Fix cracks in the pavement and sidewalks.
Remove or repair uneven surfaces.
Anyone can access the full "Home Safety Checklist," along with
advice about approaching the subject of independent living, at
www.homecareheadquarters.com. The website also provides home health
care options and answers questions such as, "How do we choose a home
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"The important thing for family members who want to reduce the
risk of an older loved one suffering an injury in the home is to
look around with fresh eyes and offer to help with home
improvements," said Hardcastle. "In addition to the safety
checklist, our website offers advice for adult children who want to
set the right tone when they talk with their parents about safety
Increasingly, older people are electing to live independent,
non-institutionalized lives, and are receiving home care services as
their physical capabilities diminish. More than 180,000 Illinoisans
currently receive home health care, according to the National
Association for Home Care & Hospice.
Home care providers serve patients who may be recovering,
disabled, chronically or terminally ill. In addition, home care
providers address health needs and offer assistance and guidance
with the essential activities of daily living. Included among the
specialists who provide home care visits are occupational
therapists, who provide client-focused intervention to adapt the
environment to increase independence, promote health and prevent
further decline or injury. These services may be reimbursable under
Medicare and some private health insurance plans when coverage
criteria are met, including a physician referral.
For more information about home safety and home health providers,
Founded in 1960, the Illinois HomeCare & Hospice Council is the
nation's first home care association and the voice for home care in
Illinois. The council represents home care and hospice agencies that
provide care to Illinois residents, companies that serve those
agencies, and other state and federal organizations that have an
interest in home care.
To protect and preserve the basic rights of patients and clients,
IHHC developed a code of ethics that agencies and organizations
agree to abide by when initially joining the council and when
renewing their annual membership. The code of ethics informs members
and the general public of acceptable guidelines for the ethical
conduct of home care providers and their employees and
representatives. The document also serves as notice to government
officials that the council expects its members to comply with all
applicable laws and regulations.
[Text from file received from
Illinois HomeCare &