(Version published in the Hamilton Spectator: March 16, 2024)

Jeanne Mayo


As we get older, our physical limitations might increase and so we might have to adapt our physical surroundings to ensure our safety.


The bathroom is the area where most falls occur and fortunately there are several adaptations that can prevent falls. First of all, the installation of grab bars that are screwed into the wall allows a safe entry and exit to the bathtub. For those who live in rental units, the property manager is responsible for the purchase and proper installation of grab bars. Access to showering can also be facilitated by a cut-out of the bathtub or a transfer bench. And a shower chair as well as a flexible shower hose are also useful safety devices. Adaptations to the toilet, including raised seat and grab bars can also be helpful. For those who qualify, many of these apparatuses may be obtained from Cancer Assist. Subsidies from the City of Hamilton may also be available. Finally, a small wet hand towel placed on the bathtub floor creates a slip-free surface.


Tap, door and cupboard handles can also be changed to models that are easier to use. Once again, if you are renting, the Property Manager should facilitate these changes.


The kitchen is another room that should be modified in order to ensure safety. Unfortunately, our height diminishes with age and dishes and pantry items that once were easily accessible could be now out of reach for many of us. A wide sturdy step could be installed. However, it might also be an opportunity to reorganize the shelves and perhaps give away items (the good china, large serving dishes, baking equipment, etc.) that are rarely used. The remaining items could now be placed on the lower shelves within easy reach.


Many of us now use the microwave more than the stove. Make sure the microwave is placed directly on the countertop within easy reach. And when using the stove, be aware of sleeves that might touch a hot element and burst into flames and, of course never leave a pot on the stove unattended. Be sure to turn off the element when you complete cooking.


Stairs, both inside or outside the home are another danger for falls. Having hand rails that allow a firm grip as well as proper lighting will reduce this danger.


Maintaining and even making new relationships are also vital to our feeling of well-being and safety. For those living in rental units, you may start a newsletter or ensure the installation of a bulletin board to advertise activities both within and outside the building that fellow tenants may be interested in attending. If there is a common room, you may even organize a social get together or ask an organization, such as the Hamilton Council on Aging, to come and give a presentation on a topic of interest. Again, the property manager should be open to such initiatives. If you are reluctant to make this approach alone, you may want to contact a family member or support worker to accompany you.


Finally, the federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for seniors have produced an excellent information booklet Thinking about Your Future: Plan now to Age in Place. This booklet includes a checklist of nine areas of your life (health, home, transportation, finances, safety, supports and services, community, and relationships to help you think about what you can do now to improve your life as you age. This extensive booklet is available at: https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/canada/employment-social-


Jeanne Mayo is a volunteer with the Hamilton Council on Aging. For more information or to donate to the Hamilton Council on Aging please visit www.coahamilton.ca or call 905-777-3837 ext. 12238