Home Safety Tips & PracticesSchedule Consultation
Home Safety Tips & Practices
Almost everyone wants to live independently at home for as long as possible. Some people, however, have lost the very independence they were trying to keep because they failed to follow some basic safety tips and practices. While this brochure cannot contain an exhaustive list of safety tips and practices, it describes a number of basic steps that individuals can take to help insure their safety at home.
Home Safety Tips
- Eliminate throw rugs and other loose floor coverings – A fall causing an injury such as a fractured hip can very quickly end one’s mobility and independence, so the goal here is to eliminate known risks for falls. If a throw rug is very beautiful or has great sentimental value, try using it as a wall hanging or on the back of a sofa or chair.
- Install handrails for stairs and grab bars in the bathroom – Again, the purpose is to prevent falls. Ideally there should be handrails on both sides of stairwells. Both handrails and grab bars should be securely fastened so they can support your body’s weight.
- Keep the hot water heater temperature set under 120o F -This is a good way to prevent accidental scalding.
- Have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors -Detectors can give you enough warning to get safely out of a building before you are overcome by smoke or carbon monoxide. Replace the battery in battery operated detectors when you reset your clocks in the Spring and the Fall, and anytime it fails during a monthly test. There are detectors designed for hearing impaired individuals.
- Have good lighting available, especially in stairwells and hallways – Because vision often decreases with aging, it is important to keep your home well-lit to help your eyes see items which could cause you to trip or stumble.
- Do not overload electrical outlets or put extension cords under carpets – In older homes there are often only a few electrical circuits for the entire house. If too many appliances are being used on one outlet, or even several outlets on the same circuit, there is a risk of overloading the electrical wiring and causing a fire. Extension cords should be placed close to walls where they will not be a tripping hazard. They should not be covered since this can hide a damaged cord, which can produce sparks, causing a fire.
- Use ground fault receptacles in wet areas like bathrooms, kitchens, and outdoors – Improperly grounded electrical appliances and other electrical devices can cause a severe shock, and even electrocution, when current flows from the device through a person’s body to the ground. Wet surfaces can help the current flow to the ground. Ground fault receptacles detect this current flow and stop the electrical current before a severe shock or electrocution occurs.
- Clearly identify your home – In emergencies, seconds count. Having your street number clearly visible on the outside of your home, curb and/or mailbox can help emergency personnel get to you more quickly.
Home Safety Practices
- Keep doors and windows locked – For emergency access, leave a key with a trusted neighbor, family member, or friend, or have a keyless lock box installed.
- Use a peep hole or home security monitor to check the person at the door before opening it – If the person is not someone you have requested to visit you, do not open the door. If he or she looks like a utility company person, ask for photo ID or call the utility company to confirm they have sent the individual, before letting the person into your home. A chain lock on your door will allow you to open the door to examine ID without allowing the person inside.
- Keep emergency numbers near your phone or have them on speed dial in your cell phone – It is good to have a card with emergency numbers plus a current list of your medications and any allergies you have to give to the ambulance crew in the event of a medical emergency. The card should include both numbers you would call in an emergency and the numbers of contact people you would want to be notified in the event of an emergency, such as your Healthcare POA.
- Be aware of phone and internet scams – “If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is” is still wise advice. It is better to miss a good deal than to be caught in a scam. If you are asked for bank account, credit card or Social Security numbers, treat it as a red flag and hang up the phone or disconnect from the internet site (unless you made the call or contact to a trusted business or a secure website).
- Keep a flashlight within reach of your bed – Electrical failure can occur at any time, so it is wise to be prepared.
- Use nightlights – Nightlights can help prevent stumbling over something in the dark, and consequently, may prevent a fall.
- Use an emergency telephone alert device, especially if you live alone – These devices enable you to call for help, even when you cannot get to a phone. Because there is no need to wear it when you leave home, consider exchanging it for your keys when you return home
Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney can be used to give another person the right to sell a car, home, or other property in the place of the maker of the Power of Attorney. A Power of Attorney might be used to allow another person to sign a contract for the maker of the Power of Attorney (the person who makes a power of attorney is called the “principal”). It can be used to give another person the authority to make health care decisions, do financial transactions, or sign legal documents that the principal cannot do for one reason or another. With few exceptions, Powers of Attorney can give others the right to do any legal acts that the makers of the Powers of Attorney could do them themselves. A General Power of Attorney gives the “power of attorney Agent” or simply “Agent” (the legal name of the person who is authorized to act for the principal) very broad powers to do almost every legal act that the principal can do. When Elder Law Attorneys draft general Powers of Attorney, they still list the types of things the Agent can do but these powers are very broad. People often do general Powers of Attorney to plan ahead for the day when they may not be able to take care of things themselves. By doing the General Power of Attorney, they designate someone who can do these things for them.
Normal Powers of Attorney terminate if and when the principal becomes incompetent. Yet many people do Powers of Attorney for the sole purpose of designating someone else to act for them if they cannot act for themselves. It is precisely when persons can no longer do for themselves that a Power of Attorney is most valuable. To remedy this inconsistency, the law created a Durable Power of Attorney that remains effective even if a person becomes incompetent. The only thing that distinguishes a Durable Power of Attorney from a regular Power of Attorney is special wording that states that the power survives the principal’s incapacity. Even a Durable Power of Attorney, however, may be terminated under certain circumstances if court proceedings are filed. Most Powers of Attorney done today are durable.
Yes. At the time the Power of Attorney is signed, the principal must be capable of understanding the document. Although a Power of Attorney is still valid if and when a person becomes incompetent, the principal must understand what he or she is signing at the moment of execution. That means a person can be suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease or be otherwise incompetent sometimes but as long as they have a lucid moment and are competent at the moment they sign the Power of Attorney, it is valid even if they do not remember signing it at a later date. At the time it is signed, the principal must know what the Power of Attorney does, whom they are giving the Power of Attorney to, and what property may be affected by the Power of Attorney.
Any competent person eighteen years of age and older can serve as an agent. Certain financial institutions can also serve. There is no course of education that agent must complete or any test that Agent must pass. Because a Power of Attorney is such a potentially powerful document, agents should be chosen for reliability and trustworthiness. In the wrong hands, a Power of Attorney can be a license to steal. It can be a big responsibility to serve as an agent.
Medicare is health insurance and covers medical services such as physician appointments, therapy, blood tests, x rays, medical procedures and hospitalization. Medicare will sometime pay for rehabilitation in a long-term care facility for a period of 20 to 100 days, but not longer. In long-term care, Medicaid covers the cost of ongoing support services for daily functioning, such as room and board in a nursing home.
Medicaid is a federal program that is overseen by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). In Pennsylvania, Medicaid is called Medical Assistance and is administered by the Department of Human Services (DHS).
In Pennsylvania, Medicaid funds are not available to pay for assisted living or personal care.
For Medicaid to pay for care in a nursing home, an individual recipient must be determined to need a nursing home level of care by a physician and the local Office of Aging. An individual whose income is not greater than three times the poverty level may keep up to $8,000 of total resources, but may otherwise keep only $2,400. The cash value of life insurance counts as a resource, but one car and a residential home does not count as a resource.
Empowering Clients with Holistic Planning at
Keystone Elder Law
At Keystone Elder Law, we believe that the physical, social, legal, and financial considerations of our clients all intertwine. We utilize an interdisciplinary approach to evaluate each area, which allows for the creation of a plan that addresses the concerns of the individual as a whole as well as the family. To this end, our model of practice includes a Care Coordinator (usually a nurse or social worker), whose expertise complements our team of attorneys.
When the road of life is smooth, decisions about legal and financial matters are easy to push aside for “a rainy day.” Planning ahead, however, will allow for more options as you view the map of where you’ve been and where you want to go. Don’t let a crisis limit your choices or derail your plans.(717) 697-3223