Home Safety for Seniors

 Celebrate National Senior Health and Fitness Day May 27, 2021

In 1963, President Kennedy declared the month of May as Senior Citizens Month, later renamed Older Americans Month. Since then, the average life expectancy has increased from 66-73 to 76-81. This means that on average, people are living at least 10 years longer than their parents did, and if you look around, you’ll see that many seniors are easily and healthfully exceeding the current life expectancy. The goals of National Senior Health & Fitness Day are to promote the importance of regular physical activity, and to show what local organizations are doing to improve the health of older adults in their communities.

According to National Council on Aging, approximately 49 million Americans are 65 and older, with projections estimating that the population of older adults will grow to 98 million in 2060. On average, a 65-year old can expect to live another 19 years. For older adults, good health ensures independence, security, and productivity as they age. Unfortunately, millions struggle every day with challenges such as chronic diseases, falls, physical inactivity, oral health concerns, and behavioral health issues—all of which can severely impact quality of life. 

Chronic Diseases  

Older adults are disproportionally affected by chronic conditions, such as diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease. Eighty percent have at least one chronic condition3, and nearly 70% of Medicare beneficiaries have two or more.

The leading causes of death among older adults in the U.S. are chronic diseases—heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes.

Chronic diseases can limit a person’s ability to perform daily activities, cause them to lose their independence, and result in the need for institutional care, in-home caregivers, or other long-term services and supports.

Multiple chronic diseases account for two-thirds of all health care costs and 93% of Medicare spending. Yet, less than 1% of U.S. health care dollars is spent on prevention to improve overall health.


One out of four older adults falls each year.

As a result of falls, every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies. 

Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among older adults, causing hip fractures, head trauma, and death.

Older adults are hospitalized for fall-related injuries five times more often than for injuries from other causes. 

The nation spends $50 billion a year treating older adults for the effects of falls, 75% of which is paid for by Medicare and Medicaid. 10 If falls rates are not reduced, direct treatment costs are projected to reach $101 billion by 2030.

Fear of falling can lead older adults to limit their activities, which can result in more falls, further physical decline, depression, and social isolation.

Physical Activity 

Regular exercise can help older adults stay independent and prevent many health problems that come with age. Older adults should do two types of physical activities each week to improve their health—aerobic and muscle-strengthening.

These guidelines recommend that older adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week and muscle strengthening activities on two or more days a week.

A 2014 study found that 28% of adults aged 50 and over surveyed reported no physical activity, aside from their regular job, over the past month.

Behavioral Health  

One in four older adults experiences a behavioral health problem such as depression, anxiety, or substance abuse.

These problems can complicate the treatment of other medical conditions, reduce quality of life, increase use of health care services, and lead to premature death.

Depression and other behavioral health problems are not a normal part of aging and can be treated. Despite the availability of effective interventions, 66% of older adults are not receiving the care they need.

Community VNA offers a variety of services that helps to keep older adults in their home, understanding their diseases and how to manage them, learning to increase their strength by exercising following a hospitalization and to manage living at home safely.  

Telehealth is utilized to increase monitoring of blood pressure, weight, pulse oxygenation and blood glucose levels on a daily basis.  The program incorporates patient centered education regarding their disease.  

Our staff is experienced in chronic disease management, working with the patient to become empowered to manage their disease.  

 The agency has a comprehensive falls prevention program incorporating home assessment, putting prevention measures in place and working with older adults to safely live in their home.  

Our Rehab staff develops individualized home exercise programs to maintain and improve mobility, fine motor skills and prevent falls.  By working in the patient’s home, the patient will learn how to safely navigate in their own environment. 

 Contact us at: Community VNA, 908-725-9355, www.communityvna.org

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