MANKATO — Throw rugs in the kitchen or family room seem harmless enough, but it's Kim Hanson's job this month to point out their potential danger in the homes of senior citizens.
“They're big tripping hazards,” said Hanson, client care coordinator at Home Instead Senior Care.
She also flags cabinets that are too low in the kitchen and can cause head injuries. If cabinets are too high, there could be dangers associated with the use of stepping stools or ladders to get to stored items.
Or how about adequate lighting? If a kitchen is too dim, there could be the danger of cutting ones finger during meal prep.
Then there's the danger of chemicals and cleaners, cords that pose tripping hazards, unstable furniture, living room clutter … the list goes on.
Hanson will be conducting free in-home safety checks during the month of July for any senior living in the counties served by Home Instead, including Blue Earth, Faribault, Freeborn, Nicollet, Steele and Waseca.
The point obviously isn't to scare the seniors with the list of potential dangers in their homes, but rather to point out things that can be fixed or secured in order to prevent injuries.
Hanson said she has a list of items she looks for in each room of the home. Family members are welcome to attend while Hanson goes through the homes.
“We talk about anything that's on the checklist that may be unsafe that they may want to fix or have fixed,” Hanson said.
Home Instead doesn't typically do such checks. The offer is a special to help draw attention to important safety issues.
Senior care experts recommend families conduct these checks annually to ensure their aging family members' safety.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 6 million seniors ages 65 and older visit the emergency room each year due to injuries, many of which have been sustained in the home.