Opinion: Column: Stay Safe, Stay Independent

Opinion: Column: Stay Safe, Stay Independent

Seniors are involved in more than 2.3 million accidents in their homes each year. While many seniors prefer to live independently, most homes are poorly designed to meet their needs. Older adults need to take extra safety precautions due to physical changes that occur during the aging process, such as declining vision, hearing, sense of touch and smell, and bone density loss. These factors increase the risk of injury inside the home.

Falls are the number one safety risk for older adults — nearly one third of the senior population falls each year with 70 percent of falls occurring at home. Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall-related injury, and each year, falls result in over 850,000 hospitalizations, 29,000 deaths and more than $50 billion in annual health-care costs. Falls can threaten seniors’ safety and independence and generate enormous economic and personal costs.

Falling is not an inevitable result of aging. Through practical lifestyle adjustments including evidence-based falls prevention programs and home modifications, seniors can continue to live independent lives including daily activities and social engagements which help with combating further physical decline, depression, social isolation and feeling of helplessness.

It is also very important to know how to protect yourself from phone and internet scams and unscrupulous door-to-door sales schemes. As the holiday season approaches, it is important to know about the new scams out there targeting seniors. Fairfax County's Silver Shield Anti-Scam Campaign helps older adults avoid being scammed by sharing critical information about current scams.

Senior Services of Alexandria (SSA), along with the Northern Virginia Fall Prevention Alliance, Goodwin House at Home, and Fairfax County Financial Exploitation Task Force, will talk about many of the conditions mentioned above that can occur during the normal process of aging. They will talk about ways that seniors can take the necessary precautions to remain safe at home while they continue to age.

SSA’s Nov. 2 Speaker Series, “Seniors and Caregivers: How to Stay Safe at Home,” will cover several topics including the normal course of aging, proper dispensing of medications, fall-prevention strategies, home modifications and how to recognize and avoid scams. The event takes place at Beth El Hebrew Congregation, 3830 Seminary Road at 10 a.m. (registration at 9:30). The event is free, open to the public with light refreshments and plenty of parking. Participants will have a chance to ask questions and talk to presenters. To register go online at seniorservicesalex.org or call 703-836-4414, ext. 110.