Uncovering Hidden Dangers In Their Homes
During National Home Safety Month local senior care experts are encouraging adult children to add a simple, yet important duty to their list of summer chores: Conduct a “look and see” inspection of their parent’s home
“Many seniors and their families don’t think about the fact that homes must adapt to the changing needs of seniors as they age until an accident happens,” says Nancy Reagan Foster, owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office serving Putnam County and the Charleston and Huntington areas.
“There are many potential hazards that could force seniors to lose their independence. Important safety areas to highlight in a senior’s home run the gamut from accessibility to lighting to trip and fall hazards. A lack of attention to those details can jeopardize an older adult’s ability to remain at home,” Foster says
Many home safety improvements are simple and inexpensive, experts say. Convincing seniors, on the other hand, is another story. Danise Levine, assistant director of the IDEA Center at the SUNY (State University of New York) Buffalo School of Architecture, says that denial often comes into play with seniors.
“We see a lot of seniors who don’t want to admit they’re getting older so they don’t want to make changes in their homes,” says Levine. “Secondly, consumer education is an issue. If older adults do need help they often don’t know where to go or how much things cost.”
Foster says it’s important to identify various safety pitfalls from poor lighting to the need for adaptive devices in a home. While many fixes are simple and inexpensive, others might involve a remodeling project to help a senior remain at home.
“That first, important step is to make an objective assessment of what needs to be done to keep them at home,” Foster says. “It’s one of the most important services that Home Instead Senior Care provides.”
For more information or to obtain a free home safety checklist, please telephone the local Home Instead Senior Care Office at 855-390-0030.
Look and See Signs
A Home Safety Assessment and Checklist
Seniors and their families might want to look for the following opportunities when performing a home safety assessment:
√ Examine dark pathways, corners and other areas where seniors regularly walk or read. Make sure all areas of the home have adequate lighting. Timed and motion-sensor lights outdoors can illuminate potentially dangerous pathways. Inside, consider Ott-Lites – which provide a high-intensity beam for doing detail work. Make sure that hallways and stairs are properly lit.
√ Avoid monochromatic color schemes. Contrast can help seniors with failing eyesight better navigate their homes. Large red and blue buttons over hot and cold water faucet controls will help prevent dangerous mistakes. A dark green or brown toilet seat and vinyl tape around the shower will make those fixtures more easily distinguished. Kitchen countertops should contrast with floors as well.
√ Look for ways to reorganize. Mom always put the black stew pot under the stove to keep the kids from breaking it. Perhaps now it belongs on a shelf beside the stove. And who says the eggs must go in the egg tray of the refrigerator? Perhaps it’s easier for dad to handle them if they’re stored in the meat tray. If that hallway table, which has always been a permanent fixture, is becoming a dangerous obstacle, relocate it.
√ Look behind closed doors. Many seniors will close off parts of a house they no longer use. Be sure to check those areas regularly for mold or water damage. Don’t close vents to crawl spaces.
√ Look for ways to simplify your senior’s life. Talk to your parents about why and how they do things then look for ways to simplify their lives. If your Mom’s immaculate floors are now regularly dirty, think about how she’s been doing that job all these years and offer options.
Rather than a heavy mop and bucket, investigate light-weight, all-in-one mops. If your senior is replacing appliances, look for smooth-top stoves and refrigerators with water and ice on the outside. Change door knobs to levers, or purchase grips that can go on conventional knobs. Convert single-bulb light fixtures to multiple bulbs so seniors still have light when one bulb burns out.
√ Consider security. Think about the potential dangers that lurk within your loved one’s home. Lock-in switches on thermostats and stoves will keep seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease from harming themselves. Help them manage in their environment by installing a cordless intercom.
√ Keep an eye out for damage. Watch for signs that a senior is adapting his or her behavior to the environment. Look for towel bars or window sills that are pulling away or shower curtains that have torn from seniors using them to grab onto.
√ Look for ways to make entries safe. Make sure that railings into a home are in good repair and that steps and sidewalks are not damaged. Or eliminate steps altogether. Make sure that doors into a home can be set to stay open for carrying groceries and other items in and out. Install remote control locks.
√ Is clutter taking over? Messy conditions and broken items are important warning signs. Remove area rugs and stacks of newspapers and magazines, or other potential obstacles.
√ Contact a professional senior-care service, such as Home Instead Senior Care, which can conduct a home safety assessment and serve as a second set of eyes for older adults.
This list was adapted from the home safety checklist developed by Home Instead Senior Care and enhanced in cooperation with the SUNY Buffalo School of Architecture IDEA Center, the National Association of Home Builders—Remodelers CAPS (Certified Aging in Place Specialists), the National Aging in Place Council, and aging-in-place consultant Louis Tenenbaum.
Publisher's note: This is a news release.
Limits Father's Day Visitation To Six Hours
For years frustrated fathers have said that Kanawha County Family Court Judge Michael J. Kelly is biased towards mothers and discriminates against fathers.
PutnamLIVE.com has a document that supports the arguments of those frustrated fathers.
In an order regarding Mother's Day and Father's Day visitation for the son of PutnamLIVE.com Publisher Mark Halburn and his former wife, Dolores, Kelly grants her full Mother's Day visitation but limits Mark to noon to 6:00 p.m. on Father's Day. (Though Kelly fails to properly name Dolores Martin-her legal name after the January 22nd, 2013 divorce.)
"This is blatant discrimination against dads," says Mark. "Civilized people do not discriminate against fathers. Judge Kelly must be removed from the bench and prosecuted. It's outrageous that he gives a mother a full day and a father just a portion. Where is the Supreme Court? Why are the so-called justices allowing discrimination in family court? Brent Benjamin, get off your backside and kick Kelly's backside!"
The issue came to light after "Kelly screwed up," says Mark. "He failed to address Mother's Day in our final divorce order. As was the case last year, it fell on my weekend. I offered the day for Dolores, which she counter-offered with a partial day and an overnight. All along I wanted her and her mother to have Mother's Day with our son. She, apparently, contacted Kelly, and he sent the discriminatory order."
Mark is clear: "Mothers should be with their children on Mother's Day. That's why I've volunteered the last two years. Fathers should be with their children. Last year Kelly screwed me over. That's what he does to men."
Officially, Mark has not been served with the order. "She handed a copy of it to me on Saturday morning. As a party to the case, she can't do that. It hasn't arrived in the mail or by process server. I haven't heard from the Court, so, officially, I don't have to abide by it. However, I want her and our son to spend Mother's Day together. Kelly, however, needs to be booted by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. I'll file the recusal on Monday. They covered his stupidity before, but they have zero credibility if they allow him to continue to discriminate."
Mark says "continue" because, "In 2012, he turned down my Father's Day, because the emergency motion was filed the week before. This year he answers her within days of Mother's Day. It's a one-way street with Kelly. Moms rule, dads get screwed. He should be prosecuted for gender-discrimination. The sooner, the better. Years ago would have been best. He's rotten."
A copy of the order has been emailed to West Virginia Senators Chris Walters, Corey Palumbo (Judiciary Chair) President Jeff Kessler, and W. Mike Hall. Delegates Eric Nelson, Brady Paxton, Jeff Eldridge, Scott Cadle, Suzette Raines, Josh Stowers, and Doug Skaff have also received a copy-as did West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Administrator Steven D. Canterbury. According to Mark, Paxton says he won't take action against Kelly. PutnamLIVE.com will report if they take a stance against Kelly.
"Kelly should be impeached," says Mark. "No judge should sit on a bench that discriminates. Kelly's paper trail is in black and white. Since he won't step down, he needs to be pushed off the bench by authorities."
PutnamLIVE.com has also contacted Pastor E. Alphonso Heyliger, of KISRA-which has a Winfield office. Heyliger is a Scott Depot resident and has Kelly on KISRA's Board of Directors. Heyliger says he spoke with Kelly and doesn't want to talk about the issue. (He was emailed a copy of the order.)
"KISRA says it helps fathers. How can it have Kelly on its board?" asks Halburn. "That's a conflict." PutnamLIVE.com used to provide KISRA with free advertising. The ad has been pulled. "We don't support people that associate with anyone who discriminates against fathers. If KISRA sends Kelly packing, and changes its stance, it will, again, receive the support of PutnamLIVE.com. But not until."
Winfield Police Are Stunned At Lack Of Law
By Mark Hallburn
Cops see it all. But even this one has them talking.
Make that furious.
Winfield Police Officer Kevin Young received a call about two young children being left alone in a unit of the Berry Hills Apartments. He shows up just after the parents returned. They admit that their one and two-year-old children were left alone for a total of 45 minutes.
You read that right. One and two-years-old, left alone for nearly an hour. In fact, Young says neighbors tell him the kids were by themselves for more than two hours. (Young reports the girls were uninjured, safe, and clean.)
Authorities could not find a law on the books that says this is illegal. But they're looking for one.
"Four prosecutors, a magistrate, and a CPS agent all tried to find a law to charge the parents with," says Chief of Police John J. Perrine. "They couldn't find one."
Perrine doesn't blame the prosecutors. Like police officers, they don't write laws, they only enforce them. Still, Perrine isn't happy. He's referred the case to Child Protective Services and has asked that the Putnam County Grand Jury take a look at indictments. Perrine plans to follow up. The case isn't closed.
That's all he can do.
"Obviously I think that no child should be left in the home alone," says Young. "Especially at the ages of one and two. For reasons of potential harm being done to the kids, fire, and anything can happen. Actions will be taken to stop things like this from happening."
The apartment unit is a two-story structure. Perrine remembers, earlier in his career, when a baby and parents took a nap. The baby woke up, fell down the steps, and clothing got caught on the railing. The baby was strangled. The parents were charged. "And they were home sleeping."
PutnamLIVE.com isn't naming the Berry Hill parents. They haven't been charged with any crime. But we went to the apartment and spoke to a man and woman that admitted they were the parents. They weren't happy to see a reporter. Right before the front door was slammed, the woman said, "Mind your own (explitive deleted) business.
If charges are filed, PutnamLIVE.com will report them. Meanwhile, Perrine and Young are hoping that lawmakers put a statute on the books that make it illegal for children to be left home alone.
Most of all they hope parents keep a watchful eye for their children's safety. And never, ever leave a child home alone.
Documents Detail Putnam County Health Department's Extensive Financial Woes
The Putnam County Health Department's financial mess is worse than many people expected. Shocking is the word that comes to mind.
Through a Freedom of Information Act filed with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, PutnamLIVE.com has obtained an inch-tall stack of documents that show the PCHD has the following issues:
The news could get worse: PutnamLIVE.com has confirmed that a weeks-long state audit of the PCHD is underway. We'll report the findings when the report becomes available.
According to the Putnam County Commission, new Administrator Joel M. McKinney discovered the extensive financial mess when he took over earlier this year. McKinney has been pro-active about solving the health department's financial problems. According to the application for emergency state funds, McKinney blames the former administrator for failing to pay the department's bills. Though she is not named in the letter, Jacqueline Fleshman was the former administrator. She took one call from PutnamLIVE.com about the situation-earlier this year-and referred us to McKinney who has not returned calls.
Fleshman now works for Mission West Virginia as an educator.
In fact, the PCHD harassed PutnamLIVE.com's Publisher Mark Hallburn by having him arrested when he went for a legitimate Freedom of Information Act appointment to examine financial records dating back to 2010.
Putnam County Commissioner Raymond "Joe" Haynes has been a member of the Putnam County Health Department's Board of Directors for years.
Haynes voted to hire Fleshman. When PutnamLIVE.com asked Haynes about the nearly $250,000 in reported debt, Haynes response was rude-but to the point. "I won't talk to you." In other words, he ducked the legitimate question. He also refused to answer the question of why he didn't properly manage the department where he sits on the board.
Eyewitness News is also reporting that the PCHD has not inspected any Putnam County Restaurants this year. Haynes says he was unaware of that situation. Which begs the question: Why doesn't Haynes do a proper job of monitoring the Putnam County Health Department?
There will be a change in that situation. Starting June 1st, 2013, new Putnam County Commissioner R. "Andy" Skidmore is taking the place of Haynes on the Putnam County Health Department's Board of Directors. Skidmore promises to keep a close eye on the department's finances.
2013 Theme: Reducing Residential Arson
Nothing is more devastating than a home fire. You lose family heirlooms, pictures of grandma, grandpa, and the children as they grew up. Priceless mementos that carry priceless memories.
The West Virginia Fire Marshal's office wants to help you prevent arson. They provide some excellent information in the following news release:
The goal for this year’s Arson Awareness Week, which takes place May 5th – 11th, 2013, is to look at ways to reduce residential arsons.
According to the United States Fire Administration's National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) data and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), more than 16,000 intentionally set fires in home every year result in 300 deaths. Of these arsons there are an average of 700 injuries and $500 million dollars in direct property damage. Arsons rob neighborhoods and communities of valuable assets such as lives and property.
Fire departments can help communities reduce the occurrence of arson and decrease its effects by making residents aware of measures to safeguard their homes.
What can I do to protect my home against Arson?
· Illuminate exterior and entrances to your home. Install motion-activated lights on all sides of the house. These are relatively inexpensive.
· Clear all obstructions. Trim or remove brush that blocks the view of a home from the street.
· Install smoke alarms and fire sprinkler systems. The combination of smoke alarms and home fire sprinklers reduces the likelihood of death from a fire. This is the most effective fire loss prevention and reduction measurement.
· Keep doors and windows locked. A simple locked door could be the deterrent that saves a home from arson.
· Clean your yard. Remove excess of piles of leaves or vegetation and clean around your house and garage to remove unused paper, trash, cans of paint or other materials.
· Clean up vacant homes. Make sure to secure abandoned and vacant homes. Keep doors and windows locked or boarded up with plywood. Remove any abandoned vehicles. Make sure all utilities are disconnected.
The West Virginia State Fire Marshal’s Office urges everyone to have a compre-hensive fire protection plan that includes smoke alarms, residential sprinklers, and practicing a home fire escape plan.
For more information, including a media kit for the 2013 Arson Awareness Week campaign, please go to http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/aaw/.
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