PUTNAM COUNTY — Falls are a threat to the health of older adults and can reduce their ability to remain independent. Although falls can happen anywhere, home and environmental risk factors play a role in about ½ of all falls. Many of these falls can be prevented by making simple changes in the home.

If you are an older adult who is concerned about falling, the Putnam County Council on Aging, a United Way of Putnam County Partner Agency, is offering a new program called “SAFE Homes – Securing Safe Aging in Elderly Homes”. The SAFE Homes Program is a home modification program that offers a basic home safety evaluation, education, environmental modifications and adaptive equipment to older adults who are concerned about falling. The home safety evaluations are offered in partnership with Certified Aging in Place Specialist, Mary Maas. According to Council on Aging Director, Jodi Warnecke, “Aging in Place simply means being able to remain independent in your own home as you grow older and your needs and abilities change.”

The first step for the SAFE Homes Program is to contact the Council on Aging Outreach Specialist, Judy Kahle, to sign up for the program and to complete the necessary paperwork. Once the paperwork is complete, the home safety evaluation will be scheduled. The evaluation will consist of a basic assessment of the entrance, kitchen and bath areas of the home, where a fall is most likely to occur. Upon completion of the assessment, a report of the findings and recommended home modifications will be available. Examples of recommended changes may include installing grab bars, removing throw rugs, installing hand rails on steps, clearing walkway of shrubs and debris, widening steps, rearranging cupboards, improved lighting, use of adaptive medical equipment and so much more. Once the report is finalized, the Council on Aging Outreach Specialist will review the report and help coordinate any home modifications that can be completed by the agency’s chore program as well as assist with any items that may be needed from the Medical Equipment Loan Closet.

There is no cost for the SAFE Homes Program. All services are free and offered regardless of income. The only eligibility is that you must be a Putnam County resident, age 60 and better, who is concerned about falling. For more information on the SAFE Homes Program, please call the Putnam County Council on Aging Outreach Specialist, Judy Kahle, at 419-523-4121.