Protect loved ones without breaking the bank

March 24, 2010 7:43:11 AM PDT
Most senior citizens prefer to stay in their homes as long as possible. So making it a safe environment is a top priority. And there are ways to protect your loved ones without breaking the bank.

According to the Home Safety Council, there are 20,000 home-related deaths every year. Many of the victims are senior citizens. But with the proper tools, some of these accidents can be prevented.

Henry and Mildred Mergenthal have lived in the Throgs Neck section of the Bronx for 40 years and plan to be there many more.

"Our intention it to remain here," Henry said. "We have no intention of moving to Florida or any place else. We love it here."

But 80-year-old Henry is now in a wheelchair, and Mildred is getting up in years. For them, a safe environment is a top priority. Partners in Care is there to do an analysis of the Mergenthal's home.

Nurse Patricia Edris specializes in home safety for seniors. The first improvement is adding a hand railing down the steps to the basement. The next stop is the bathroom, which can be very dangerous.

"What we're going to do is put grab bars both outside and inside the shower, so that you can safely transfer in and out of the tub," Edris said. "And then, the other thing that we're going to do is put in a tub chair inside the shower, so that he can sit rather than stand."

A bath mat and a handheld shower will complete the safety transformation. Another tip: if you don't want a permanent hand grip, you can use temporary ones that are very sturdy.

Here is the cost breakdown:

  • Shower seat: $40
  • Handheld shower: $15
  • Hand grip: $15
  • Bath mat: $10
  • Raised toilet seat: $50

    The grand total = $130 for the bathroom. Also, some of these items will be covered by insurance.

    The upgrades have put the Mergenthal's at ease.

    "Less stressful, more relaxing, more at home," Mildred said. "Safer."

    CLICK HERE for more information on Partners in Care.