Over the past several years several friends and acquaintances have had accidents that resulted in hospital time, rehab activities, and extreme loss of income. None of these were car accidents, burning buildings, or other extreme situations. Three accident situations accounted for all of my friends’ mishaps: bathroom slips (3), tripping over things stacked at the bottom of the stairs (3), or falling off a bicycle (2). All of these accidents occurred to people in my age group.
A few years ago a friend of ours went off to the Mayo Clinic for a comprehensive medical check-ups. For more than a day he was kept busy with tests and meetings with health providers. At one of those meetings he asked a physician what specific things could he do to increase the odds that he could remain healthy. The doctor mentioned the usual things like not smoking, drinking in moderation, exercise, installing smoke detectors, etc., but he also mentioned several other steps that people should take to ensure the best “quality of life” odds.
What was striking about these other suggestions was that they were appropriate for senior citizens but also for people like me and my friends in our 40’s and 50’s –all steps that can help us avoid accidents as well as income loss. Here are some of the most interesting suggestions that my friend reported to me as well as a few of my own observations. Focusing on these tips has made our house safer and more secure for us and our parents but also ensured our daily lives are safer as well.
Use a shower mat in the tub when showering: Experts at the clinic told my friend that many, many accidents occur in a tub or shower stall, and they often result in missed work and/or disability in people who are not senior citizens. Everyone should have a non-skid mat in the shower.
Wear a seat belt: Interestingly, many people, especially empty-nesters, sometimes forget about buckling their seat belts once children are no longer in the car on a regular basis.
Wear a bicycle helmet: Many states have helmets requirements for children, but often their parents do not wear them. We all need to wear them.
Do not stack odds and ends at the top or bottom of stairs: When various possessions need to be transferred between floors, many people tend to stack them near or even on the steps so they can be grabbed on the way up or down. This causes lots of accidents.
Begin to install grab bars: When we did some renovations on our house a few years ago, the a architects suggested that we install grab bars in the showers and tubs. At first we thought the idea was silly. But we went ahead and put in the grab bars, and we are amazed at how many times we use them. We believe that some of those grabs prevented slips. Grab bars are especially useful when people are getting in and out of tubs or when a person bends down in the shower to pick up something that has dropped.