BUFFALO, N.Y. – One in eight adults ages 65 and older
suffer falls every year, and since more than 40 million seniors who
are aging are in their own homes, many of these accidents occur
Even among seniors who are relatively healthy and agile, falling
is the most common cause of traumatic brain injury and the leading
cause of injury death. More than half the falls suffered by seniors
are not reported, but even at that, more than 2.3 million
nonfatal-fall injuries in seniors are treated in emergency
departments every year and more than 660,000 result in
hospitalization. The cost is upwards of $30 billion a year.
To help prevent such accidents, UB researchers and
occupational therapists have created and are disseminating the Home
Safety Self-Assessment Tool (HSSAT), which offers specific
information about ways to prevent falls among individuals 65 years
of age and older.
The tool also cites helpful safety devices and products, and
offers the names and numbers of Western New York businesses and
free services prepared to help with structural and equipment
issues. These resource lists can be adapted easily to any
An article describing HSSAT, titled “Occupational Therapy
Community Practice and Home Assessments: Use of the Home Safety
Self-Assessment Tool (HSSAT) to Support Aging in Place,” was
published in the July 13 issue of the journal Occupational Therapy
in Health Care.
The HSSAT is available on several senior health-related
websites, among them the aging research site at UB: http://agingresearch.buffalo.edu/hssat/hssat_
It consists of seven sections:
- The home safety self-assessment checklist, which assists the
user in finding and correcting hazards that could provoke tripping
or falling. These can include clutter on floor and counter
surfaces, unsafe carpets, problematic bed or toilet height,
inadequate lighting, steep and/or dark stairwells, dangerous
footwear, an absence of banisters and grab bars, and problematic
cupboards and closets.
- Assistive devices and helpful products that can prevent falls.
These include bathtub grab bars, carpet trims and tape, security
gates, nonslip socks and safe shoes, three-step ladders, furniture
risers, cord and cable covers, motion-sensing LED lights,
big-button remote-control devices, bath grab bars, a water alarm
with temperature monitor, fall-detection system, stair
treads, walk-in tubs and many more.
- A list of home-modification service providers in Erie County
that perform such home modifications as installing grab bars or
railings or widening the doorway to a bathroom. These providers are
insured, have experience in home modification and remodeling, and
are willing to perform even a small job in the home. Phone numbers
are listed, as well as email addresses and websites if
- A list of other local resources that provide free services
related to home modification, including the Center for Assistive
Technology, Erie County Department of Senior Services, Lions Blind
and Charity Fund, Independent Foundation Loan Closet, Hamburg Loan
Closet (American Red Cross), the Muscular Dystrophy of WNY Loan
Closet, People Inc. Senior Services, Supportive Services
Corporation, and legal services that can help seniors get
assistance and used, low-cost equipment.
- Tips for fall prevention
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) instructions for home
- An action log to help keep track of the house hazard-removal
The HSSAT was developed by the Occupational Therapy Geriatric
Group in the UB Department of Rehabilitation Science, School of
Public Health and Health Professions.
Members of the group are Susan Nochajski, director of the UB
Occupational Therapy Program; Jo Schweitzer, director of
occupational therapy clinical education; Machiko R. Tomita,
director of aging and technology research; and Sheela Rajendran, a
graduate occupational therapy student.
The authors of the journal report are Nochajski, Schweitzer and
Beverly Horowitz of York College, City University of New York.