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Alarm Box: Free safety assessments offered for seniors

The Ashland Fire & Rescue Housing Safety Program, in partnership with Age Friendly Innovators, will assist income-eligible seniors and persons with disabilities to make safety modifications helping individuals attain greater mobility and remain safely in their home. The program focuses on the person’s most immediate needs as they relate to improving safety and accessibility.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, each year in America millions of older adults fall. One in three seniors fall each year, but less than half tell their doctor. These falls can be serious and costly. Every 13 seconds an older adult is treated in an emergency room for a fall. Every 20 minutes an older adult dies from a fall.

Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults. A large percentage of calls received by Ashland Fire & Rescue are due to falls by older and disabled residents. Many of the callers are repeat callers who have unaddressed Americans with Disability Act or home modification needs.

Age-Friendly Innovators is a not-for-profit organization. Its purpose is to catalyze thinking about age-friendly living and pose creative solutions that enable older adults to live healthy and independent lives, remaining in their homes for as long as possible. Ashland Fire & Rescue, partnering with Age Friendly Innovators, is proposing to use the Housing Safety program to achieve multiple city and community goals: to allow seniors and peoples with disabilities to remain safely in their homes, to reduce the number of falls and related safety issues and, last but not least, to ensure that senior and disabled households have updated and properly operating fire safety equipment in their homes.

Ashland Fire & Rescue will work with Age Friendly Innovators to identify households in need, assess safety and mobility needs and recommend improvement measures. Housing units will be assessed for safety and mobility features including smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, raised toilet seats, stand-up showers, bathroom grab bars, interior handrails, widening of interior and exterior doorways to accommodate accessibility, wheel chair ramps, or accessibility improvements to walkways.

The program will provide up to $5,000 per household to complete identified safety and accommodation measures. The program will also provide fire and fall safety information, property inspection, detailed scope of work, fire and fall safety devices/modifications, cost estimating and contractor procurement, construction and project management, referral to other community resources as needed, and annual follow up visits.

Ashland Fire & Rescue, in collaboration with Age Friendly Innovators, sees this proposed project as a unique opportunity to promote public, private and nonprofit partnerships to help senior and disabled persons remain safely in their homes. The Housing Safety Program expects to reduce the number of falls among the target population, which can lead to expensive and often preventable medical costs and also to reduce the number of calls for emergency services.

Ashland Fire & Rescue has secured a materials commitment from Home Depot and Lowe’s to provide materials to help leverage funding and reduce project costs. We wish to thank these businesses for their generosity and commitment to this program.

For more information on this program, contact Emily Matlock of Ashland Fire & Rescue at 541-482-2770, or email emily.matlock@ashland.or.us. The Alarm Box, a column with local public safety information, appears triweekly in the Tidings.

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