• Sat. Oct 1st, 2022

By Dr. Tyra Oldham

The safe place and safe space bring on a host of considerations. The choice of where and how one lives is a choice combined with present-day conditions such as economics, logistics, family, and health can lead to a safe place or space decision. As children, we live with our parents, but we can plan for our living as adults. The ability to consider short-term and long-term safe place and safe space thinking for yourself or a loved one are essential to a good to a great life. 

Remember that we all start off in a safe place and space in our mother’s womb. As we age, we yearn and need to return to a safe place and space for our protection, security, warmth, care, food, and hopefully loving shelter. 

As we go through life, many of us can create and support a safe place and safe space during our working years, but as we age, more controls are given to others such as caregivers, children, attorneys, facilities, and other support solutions.  

How to choose? Choose by visiting places that suit your needs. Have conversations with family on later stage living accommodations. I considered my mother’s needs and made changes to her home for safe place and safe space changes to accommodate her needs as she ages. The entire family will have to assist in the safe place safe space choice for some. The choices defaulted to me as the caregiver and POA for people like me who are the primary decision-maker. As families come together, it is best to have a primary caregiver for overall decisions to prevent disagreements or arbitrary voting.

When single the safe place and space may look different than those with family, singles may choose to commune, share resources, share property, be neighbors or hire support. A safe place and space thinking is always a team effort.   

Why is a safe place and space so important? Because most injuries occur at home. To create a safe place and space it may be necessary to perform improvements. 

For those who choose to remain in their homes it is better to start remodeling your home to a safe place and space. A safe place and safe space requires adapting the house for safety with grab bars, raised toilets with handle rails, bed rails, ramps, removal of rugs for easy walking, and sometimes removing some doors while securing others and changing walkways for safe access and egress.  

The goal is to start to think and build a safe place long before its needed. Consider, the top five things impacting the elderly first are falls. 

Age Safe America” reported in January 26, 2017, that “Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults. As more Americans age, falls will become even more numerous and costly than they are now. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention puts these staggering statistics in a context that really brings the problem home: one out of every three seniors fall each year; every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in an emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult die from a fall.” Moreover, “Falls account for 25% of all hospital admissions and 40% of all nursing home admissions. 40% of those admitted will never return to independent living and 25% will die within one year.”  

After falls, the following areas that impact a safe place or safe space for older people are fires, then poisoning, abuse and crime and consumer products, reports “People between 75 and 84 are nearly FOUR times as likely to die in a fire.”  I would add consumer sales calls and schemes to the list.

“100% of ER doctors agree that an annual Home Safety Assessment is important to keep seniors safe at home,” states “Age Safe America,” January 26, 2017.”

A safe place and safe space is not just the home but access to healthy foods, proper medication dosages, proper proportionate meals three times a day, access to hydration such as water, Ensure, or other drinks that reduce dehydration. When possible and needed, add changes that support safe access for wheelchairs, walkers, exercise equipment, and other accommodations for health. 

Now consider safe places and safe spaces for the Black community, which is faced with staggering numbers of hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and often limited to healthy foods because of food deserts. Further, safe places and spaces influenced by economic and wage disparities impact generations of care. It is vital to begin the questions of safe places and spaces to support generations being cared for effectively, efficiently, and empathetically. 

Begin by asking will my mom or dad or both be safe in this environment? Will they be able to manage their needs? Will they be more likely to recover at home or a skilled facility? Will my family member receive the overall care they need to thrive in this place or space? Never forget respect questions such as, will my family member be heard or respected when they talk? And ultimately, is the place the best place for their living? No facility or even home is perfect, but good care starts with asking the right questions, training, good hiring practices, planning, knowledge, focus, conscientiousness, attention to detail, and empathetic people who seek to understand the needs of everyone in their charge. A safe place and safe place must be designed and made for whomever you care for while never underestimating the power of placement.

For more information on care support and caregiving advice, write or email the “Care Corner.” Want to discuss care? Care Corner is that place to talk care, address questions for current and potential caregivers, and provide suggestions on agencies, services, and tips to assist in a care journey. (Read more of the article from the Herald Newspaper– subscribe now

The Care Corner is for everyone, no matter their age or process in care. For more information on caregiving, send your questions to Care Corner at the Cincinnati Herald or via email at care@carecorner.info.