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Home Modifications Pay Off in the Long Run

3rd Oct 16

National insurance data shows that half of all falls result in hospital admissions and 39% of falls result in death. As you might imagine, the cost of these injuries is significant to individuals and society as a whole. A team of researchers in New Zealand recently sought to determine if the cost of fall prevention modifications in the home, where 53% of all falls occur, would pay off in the long run. They concluded that the cost-benefit ratio is certainly high enough to justify making modifications to prevent falls in the home. Based on our experience installing access solutions in homes throughout Australia, we wholeheartedly agree with this assessment.

Cost of injuries vs. home modifications

A key part of the study involved a comparison between the cost of fall-prevention modifications and the overall cost of disabilities from falls. The team estimated that the cost of fall injuries sustained in the home is around NZ$2.28 billion each year. These costs include estimates of indirect costs, such as the added costs incurred by living with a disability after the fall. They then determined that it would cost about NZ$978 million to renovate homes throughout New Zealand to prevent falls.

The costs associated with fall injuries in the elderly extend beyond just financial implications. While these are costly, it’s also important to consider the broader implications. When an elderly person is injured in a fall, they will require additional support until they have recovered. It takes longer for older people to recover, so the period of support can extend to several years. In some cases, such as with a broken hip, a full recovery may never occur and the individual may require support indefinitely or need to move into a rest home.

Changes you can make to prevent falls

Preventing falls is an important step in maintaining independence. As we get older, many of us start to think about modifications we can make that will enable us to live at home for longer. There are many ways you can alter your home to make it safer for everyday use. These methods range from smaller changes to more extensive modifications.

The first step is to carefully assess the home (inside and outside) to identify anything that could cause a trip or a fall. Then you should work to eliminate all potential sources of danger in the home. We  recommend that you work with a professional to ensure all bases are covered. Some of the most common modifications include:

Indoors

  • Install grab rails in all bathrooms (in shower and by toilet)
  • Place non-slip bathmats in shower and bath
  • Ensure handrails are installed on stairs and steps and that they are sturdy
  • Repair loose stairs and install slip-resistant edging
  • Ensure carpeting is in good condition and edges are not lifted, remove floor rugs

Outdoors

  • Make sure outdoor lighting is adequate
  • Ensure outdoor steps are in good condition
  • Install high-visibility and/or non-slip edging on outdoor steps
  • Make sure outdoor areas, such as decks, are slip-resistant

Consider installing a platform lift

Another modification you may wish to consider is the installation of a platform lift. The majority of our customers install these access solutions after an injury has been sustained. But if they had been installed beforehand, the injury might have been prevented in the first place! With age, the steps become a very dangerous place and a common location for fall injuries. Not only can a lift prevent injury, but they can also greatly extend the number of years you or your loved one can remain living independently in the home.

We’re here to help

If you’re considering making home modifications to prevent fall injuries, we encourage you to contact one of our Australian distributors listed on this website . They  will assess your home and your unique needs to help you determine if and when a lift would be beneficial to you.

 

Images

Slip resistant work boots by Esther Max, CC BY 2.0

Stair Safety by MySafetySign.com, CC BY 2.0

 

Written by

Ian has over 30 years experience in the service sector within Australia, New Zealand and Europe. He has gained a wealth of national and international knowledge throughout this time specialising in quality operational and service delivery both in the private and public sectors. For the last 6 years he has owned and operated Vestner, a New Zealand company specialising in the...

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