by Judy Jondahl
The WISE Moments for Mental Wellness will be focused on Preparedness during the month of September. Have you ever noticed how much stress and anxiety is associated with the physical things of your home that just need attention: if you don’t have a fire extinguisher; if you don’t have a way to see who is at your front or back doors without having to open the door; or if you don’t have automatic on/off lighting at the entrances of your home. Those are just a few of the items that we will address during the month. We will attempt to highlight the items that may increase your safety, both inside and outside of your home or apartment. We will also assist you with some ideas that may help you stay organized in case of a health crisis or emergency. It is important that you have contact information and your instructions prepared in case you are unable to speak for yourself in such crises.
While staying in our homes provides familiarity and a sense of independence, it is important that the home environment is safe and that we are prepared for emergencies. In both the survey conducted as a start of our Faith Community Nursing ministry and the recently-completed W.I.S.E. survey, home safety was identified as an area of concern. There is a definite link between physical and mental/emotional wellness, so I want to address some important steps that should be taken to ensure safety and preparation for potential emergencies in this month’s article. While many of those reading this are seniors or have physical limitations, it is important for all us to remember that falls are the number one cause of injury for seniors. Is your home taking precautions to avoid this in your home? Having recently experienced the danger of area/throw rugs recently, I was reminded why these home decorations may not be wise. And trying to get light into my main living area, I learned to how to hide extension cords when furniture is not up against a wall.
Keeping emergency numbers handy is another important preparation – cell phones can help with this if you program emergency numbers for easy access. At a minimum, include fire and police, Poison Control, doctor, and family or an emergency contact person.
Fire safety in your home includes having smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and change batteries regularly. My son, a fireman, on his first visit to my home, was walking around looking at the ceiling in each room. When I asked what he was doing, he said checking for smoke alarms. After he returned home, I received a package with 2 smoke detectors and a note that my son-inlaw would install them. He also knows my love of candles but strongly suggested I switch to the battery operated ones with timers. Recently, after getting home from a fire, he called with a reminder to stay low while getting to the closest exit to limit exposure to smoke.
Bathrooms and kitchens provide special considerations for safety. For example, I remember my daughter asking an apartment manager about installing grab bars in my bathroom. (After covering my ears, she referenced my age and smirked.) Kitchens generally have high cabinets, which may require use of a step stool to reach.
Ensuring adequate lighting can prevent misjudging space and shadows that can be misleading. Outdoor lighting is important when you or someone else approaches your home at night; motion sensor lights do not require electricity and can provide lighted walkways and discourage unwanted strangers.
Having peepholes in doors or some way to see who is at your door while keeping doors and windows locked are also ways to stay mentally and physically safe in your home. Staying aware of phone and email scams is also an important step in being prepared to avoid loss.
These next pages offer a place to begin. There are many items you can complete on your own and make the necessary safety improvements. If there are items that you can’t do, such as the installation of peep holes, indoor/outdoor lighting, and other tasks that require climbing of ladders or working with power tools, please start making a punch list of items that need attention. Once your list is complete, call Pastor Jim at 623.792.5295, and he will make arrangements to help you accomplish your safety goals. You will be surprised at how much more comfortable and at ease you will feel when these items are accomplished! If you do not see some items on this list that may help address areas of concern within your particular situation, please include them on your punch list, and we will try to address them.