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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                        March 29, 2001


Spring Cleaning for Seniors:
Sharon Regional Health System Gives Tips for Making Your Home Safer


Home is often described as "where the heart is," "where you hang your hat," and other phrases that conjure images of safety and warmth. What is often forgotten though is that a person's home can be an accident waiting to happen - especially for senior adults. Every year older Americans are injured in their homes, with most accidents occurring in the bathroom or bedroom. Tripping on an item may not seem serious, but 10 percent of all falls cause significant injury for older individuals and are a contributing factor in 40 percent of nursing home admissions.

Fortunately, many of these accidents are preventable, and Sharon Regional Health System offers helpful tips to avoid injury-prone situations. "Research suggests that one-third to one-half of home accidents can be prevented by modification and repair," said Sergio Segarra, M.D., FACEP, Director of Emergency Medicine at Sharon Regional. "It only takes minutes to prevent an injury that could persist for a lifetime."

Instead of focusing only on dirty windows and dingy walls, seniors and their families should consider incorporating these simple steps into their spring cleaning routine to create a safer living environment.

Remove rugs and runners that tend to slide, or secure them carefully to the floor.

Install sturdy handrails on both sides of every stairway.

Remove electrical cords and wires from the floor and from pathways.

Keep areas free of clutter.

Arrange furniture so it doesn't obstruct walking.

Install light switches at both the top and bottom of the stairs and near the doorway of every room.

Install grab bars in the tub/shower and by the toilet.

Line the bathtub and the floor beside it with non-skid mats or abrasive strips.

"Although seniors are more susceptible to falls and home accidents, no one is immune," said Dr. Segarra. "Every family and individual should pinpoint potential home health hazards now before they experience injuries or even loss of life."