Articles by Vic

Articles by Vic - Published in the Vintage Magazine

Grab Bars prevent falls

You have heard or read that you should have grab bars in your in the bath room and at changes of elevation, like stairs. What I hear people saying is that I don’t need grab bars yet or I am not that old yet. You may believe that you get around just fine or you don’t want your house to look like a hospital room. You might think you have lived just fine without them all these years so why would I need them now? Let me tell you why. Falls are the number one reason people over the age of 65 go to the emergency room or are placed in a nursing home. One out of three people over 65 years old fall in the home every year. The threat of a fall is five times great than the number 2 reason people go the emergency room, fires. I am sure that you have a working smoke detector in your home to protect you and others from fire danger. But very few folks have grab bars to protect them from the number one threat – falls!

These days, grab bars are available at a wide variety of stores you probably shop weekly. They are at home improvement stores, hardware stores, medical supply stores, and drug stores. They now come in a plethora of colors and styles and can truly be a decorator item. I have seen grab bars range in price from $12 to over $400 at kitchen and bath design stores. Most are stainless steel with a variety of colors to choose from, such as chrome, white, bronze, black, and copper to mention a few. They can be very simple in design to as ornate as you desire to match anyone’s style.

No matter the color or style you choose they should be securely fastened to the wall. This can be accomplished by attaching them to a framing stud with screws, praying that you can locate the stud and that it is in the proper location your use. You can also use Togglers or Wingits mounting systems which are available. According to a Cornell University study they do not recommend tub mounted or suction type grab bars because they can slip and come loose. When installing over a tile wall be sure you use a tile and glass bit to drill the holes. Grab bar installation is simple but it is not usually easy.

Grab bars should be considered for installation at your bath or shower entrance and on an inside wall for stability and balance. They also should be installed around the toilet to help get up and down. Grab bars should be installed at any changes in elevation in the home, such as, the steps in the garage.

No matter what style or color you choose they all will help you keep your feet on the floor and your head off of it. Grab bars are like insurance, if you don’t have it when you need it, it is too late.


Now that the weather has turned really hot and summer has officially started it is a good time to take notice of possible home safety issues inside and out. Here are some areas you should investigate to see how they are fairing after a long hard winter.

Check all of your gates, latches, and locks to be sure they are working properly and easily as they will often become loose from opening and closing. Get them tightened if they are loose and you might want to treat them with a spray lubricant if they are not operating as freely as they should. While you are looking around, if you have a wooden deck check to see if you have any rotten or loose boards, screws or nails and tighten or replace them. Check your other steps and surfaces as well. The winter weather can be hard on them especially if you had to use ice melt or shovel them off. Look at your hand rails to be sure they too are secure. If you don’t have railings check into installing them. They can keep you moving around your home a lot safer and longer.

Be sure you have adequate lighting all around the outside of your home. This is one of the best ways to deter intruders. According to a study by the FBI more burglaries happen in the months of July and August than in any other month. You can have these lights turn on and off with timers or motion detectors.

Check around your yard for any bowls, pots or other items that may hold stagnant water. That is the breeding ground for mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are known to carry diseases that can harm humans and pets. And they really are pests when you are outside enjoying nature or working in the yard.

Speaking of working in the yard, you need to have all shrubs and trees around your house and yard at a controlled height. They should be short and open so your windows and entrances can be seen. Overgrown plants are a great place for home invaders to hide while trying to get into your home. When you are mowing the yard do not let children in the area. Turn the mower off if they do come close. Mow lawns that are sloped across the slope with a walk behind mower and up and down when using a riding mower to prevent from falls or turning the mower over.

There are a couple more things to check, make sure your smoke detectors are all working properly. This should be done every month. Fire is second only to falls for causing injury in the home for seniors. And finally, take a look at your house numbers to be sure they are clearly visible from the street just in case emergency personnel need to locate you or your pizza needs to get there still hot.

Published in Vintage Magazine, July 2011, by Vic Osteen, M.S. is an educator, author, speaker and owner of Senior Safety Services, LLC.

You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

Can you quickly recall the most valuable things in your home? Most of us can’t, but things happen that can require us to do just that. Disasters happen that can remove our valuables from us, like fires, floods, theft, and in our part of the world tornados. It will make it a lot easier to make an insurance claim or police report if you take a little time and make a list of what you have or a “Home Inventory”.

This is really a simple task but does take a little time and effort. All you really need is pen, paper, flash light to locate numbers, and a good pair of eyes. A camera or video recorder can also make the job a little more efficient by taking pictures or making a video of each room. I suggest you sit right where you are and just look around to start your list. You can also receive forms from insurance companies or from sites on your computer to help you with this project. Some of the items that need to be on your list are appliances, dishes, collectibles, rugs, furniture, electronics, furs, jewelry, artwork, guns, computer, outdoor grill, lawn and garden equipment, patio furniture, and the safe you are going to put this list in.

You will need to list each item in as much detail as possible, including the model, model number, and the serial number. These can be found on the backside or bottom of most items. It is good to list the retail value or what you paid for the item if you can remember.

After you have completed your inventory and taken your video or pictures, make a couple of copies and put them in your safety deposit box at your bank, in your home fire-proof safe, or at a trusted friend or relative’s home. If you make your list on the computer, make a disc or flash drive copy and do the same with it. Be sure to update your inventory every year to keep it current with any changes that you have made in your valuables.

We all hope we will never need to use this inventory list but if you do, people will think that you are so smart and wise for doing this. It will be time well spent for you and your family. For more information go to or email me at

Published in Vintage Magazine, July 2011, by Vic Osteen, M.S. is an educator, author, speaker and owner of Senior Safety Services, LLC.



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