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18 Fearless Years  


Gary Barg - Editor-in-chiefThe Scariest Room in the House


I admit it. I am a sucker for any scary movie that makes me cover my eyes and want to yell out to the screen, “Don’t open that door!” with the rest of the movie audience (and sometimes, even when alone at home). I also like to read those spine-chilling stories that have me worrying about every creak and squeak my house makes in the middle of the night. But what I found myself reading the other night was the most chilling of any horror story that I have read in a very long time. 

The plot was about a room in any home in Anytown, USA. At first, this room seems innocent enough, but soon you learn that it has been the cause for the death of thousands of people this past year alone (“Don’t go in that room!”). The room that I am talking about is actually the bathroom in any senior’s home and what I was reading that had me clutching my blanket up around my neck was a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) telling of the destruction that hath been wrought by this innocent-looking room all across the nation.  

According to the CDC, in one year alone, 234,000 people 15 and older visited emergency rooms due to injuries suffered in bathrooms. Most of these injuries were caused by falls, which can be especially dangerous for older adults. Among older adults, falls are actually the leading cause of injury death. In fact, in 2008, 82 percent of fall deaths were among people 65 and older. So what can you do to prevent this horror story from playing out within your home or the home of your loved ones?  

The good news is that the solutions are simple and easy to accomplish:

  • If possible, make sure that your senior loved ones exercise regularly. It is important that the exercises focus on increasing leg strength and improving balance, and that they get more challenging over time. Tai Chi programs are especially good.

  • Ask their doctor or pharmacist to review their medicines—both prescription and over-the-counter—to identify medicines that may cause side effects or interactions such as dizziness or drowsiness.

  • Have their eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year and update their eyeglasses to maximize their vision. Consider getting a pair with single vision distance lenses for some activities such as walking outside.

  • Make their homes safer by reducing tripping hazards, adding grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower and next to the toilet, adding stair railings and improving the lighting in their homes.

- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

One thing that makes the necessary safety solutions look less and less like a horror story is that these days there are modification products that allow your bathroom to become safe, remaining homey and classy without looking like a wing of a local hospital or long-term care facility.

Class and safety. Darn...that really takes the scare out of any homebound horror story. Oh, well; let’s see what’s on the O Network.


  Gary Barg
Today's Caregiver magazine

Monday July 9, 2012


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