Making Your Home Safe for The Holidays

The Holidays are always a special time for friends and family getting together. However, they are also an excellent time for accidents in the home to happen. Taking family members to the ER has become something of a family tradition.

Take precautions and keep the opportunities for accidents to a minimum. Important things to remember are; be vigilant, a chair is not a ladder, and flameless candles are very attractive. Here are more tips ~

The Kitchen

  • Use a timer when cooking, fires can start from burning foods
  • Don’t leave cooking food unattended
  • Keep oven mitts, towels and aprons away from heat sources
  • Consider making a 3 ft. kid and pet free zone to prevent accidental burns
  • If you’ve got young children visiting, consider placemats in place of tablecloths that might get yanked, breaking china or worse, tipping over lit candles
  • Provide a highchair for young visitors, and make sure that it is properly secure


The Tree

Fresh trees

  • Check for brown needles, a dry tree can be a fire hazards
  • Check for spiders and other pests before bringing the tree indoors
  • Secure the tree to prevent it tipping over


Artificial trees

  • Make sure it is fire resistant and lead free.
  • Keep away from the fireplace and candles
  • If an artificial tree comes with lights installed, look for the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) seal of approval to indicate that the proper wiring was used.



  • Keep glass ball and other breakable ornaments on higher branches, away from a child’s reach
  • Before using, check lights for frayed cord and damaged sockets
  • Indoor lights stay indoors
  • Use a step ladder, not a chair, to get to the high spots
  • One and Done extension cords – don’t plug two extension cords together
  • Keep the tree skirt close to the tree to avoid tripping opportunities or skip it all together
  • Make sure that furniture is well spaced out to reduce tripping accidents


Wrapping Paper and Packages

  • Pick up clutter, wrapping paper can hide tripping hazards
  • Packaging popcorn and plastic can be choking hazards
  • Don’t put wrapping paper in the fireplace, sudden fire flashes can be dangerous
  • Small toys and lithium batteries can be choking hazards, make sure they are out of small children’s reach
  • Use the right tool for the job when opening presents, and putting together new gifts


Other Rooms

  • Small rugs can cause tripping, best to avoid all together, but if you must, use grip tape
  • Add slip resistant treads or decals to the tub and shower floors for overnight guests
  • Provide plenty of lighting. Night lights are helpful.
  • Check to make sure you have anti-scald fixtures on faucet, 120° is the hottest the water should be
  • Keep doors closed to keep children out
  • Add handrails in halls or grab bars in the bathroom to help older visitors


Be Prepared

  • Check that smoke alarms are working and fire extinguishers are fresh
  • A complete first aid kit is easily accessed
  • Keep a few flashlights with fresh batteries available
  • Keep front walks and entries clear of tripping hazards or ice
  • Make sure that your house numbers can be seen easily from the street in case the Fire     Department needs to find you (as if the billowing smoke isn’t enough)


Making your home safe for visitors isn’t difficult. It just takes a little planning ahead, and paying attention to the possible trouble spots.

I hope you have a wonderful and safe holiday season.

Susie Landsem
Aging in Place by Design

Leg Strength Supports | Aging in Place

A key component of staying in your home is based on your overall fitness and health. The daily chores of laundry, groceries and vacuuming require strength and balance. Gardening, washing cars and mowing the lawn take endurance. The better fit you are, the more likely you’ll be able to continue to do the things you love for a long time.

It Starts With the Legs

Healthy legs are what keeps you mobile. The stronger your legs are, the easier it is to do just about everything. Healthy leg muscles makes it easier to do cardio work, from walking to working out on the elliptical machine. Leg strengthening exercises help to build endurance. Strengthening and improving endurance will help you have a healthier heart and overall fitness.

Good balance is essential to safety. Falls are the leading cause of injury for the 65 + group in the USA. Developing your core muscles help improve balance. Increasing your fitness, particularly leg strength and balance, will help prevent falls.

Leg Strength and Brain Health

Studies at the Kings College London have found that leg muscle strength is a significant indicator of a healthy brain. This 10 year study of twins found that the twin who had stronger legs had less age related brain changes than the other. Good fitness promotes mental well being and increases your ability to be independant.

How to Build Leg Muscles

Lunges and squats are some of the most efficient exercises to build leg muscles. Here are some more ideas;
Hip extension
Knee Extensions
Calf raises
Ankle circles
*Check with your doctor before you start any sort of fitness routine

Leg Strength and Overall Health

We all know that physical fitness is essential to a healthy life. Exercise can keep the heart stay healthy, keeps many diseases at bay and is essential to overall well-being. Strength training is important for every part of your body, and the first place to start is with the legs.

Susie Landsem
Aging in Place by Design

Aging in Place by Design

Aging in Place is a term used to describe the lifestyle choice for staying in your home, safely and independently, for as long as possible. Successful aging in place includes safety elements, health and support systems. It’s a description of how you want to live today and in the future. Proactively making decisions to reach that goal makes the transition of aging easier and less costly.

By 2030, 1 in 5 Americans will be over the age of 65. Approximately 10,000 people are retiring every day, and they are receiving Medicare and Social Security benefits right away. Not everyone will retire at 65, and some won’t live that long, but that’s a sobering number for the effect on these services. Some people are choosing to stay in their homes for as long as possible because of finances. The average cost of living in an assisted facility in Bellingham Wa is $4,500 / month, more if there are two people. Some choose to stay at home to be closer to friends, or they simply enjoy the neighborhood. Whatever the motivation, aging in your home is the most successful when you plan ahead.

When considering your method for Aging in Place, think about your project space (your home). Are you considering building a small retirement bungalow? Think about building a single story house. This will be the most accessible to you in the long run. When that isn’t feasible, including elements like an on-level entry, and a ground floor room that can be converted into a bedroom/living space are ways to make the home easily accessible. When starting fresh, try using a universal design for the bathroom and kitchen. For more information about the universal design, please visit

Existing homes are more of a challenge, but some safety and comfort changes can be easy and inexpensive. Door knobs, lighting and adding non-slip tape to rugs are just a few simple improvements. Adding ramps and hand railings will add to the cost. If the retrofit is complex, such as a kitchen or bathroom, the financial requirements will increase. If the changes need to be made right away because someone has fallen or been injured, the price and complexity increase even more. When there is a strategy in place, much of this work can be done over time.

Good health and fitness are fundamental to increasing the success of aging in place. Building strength to continue your daily routines is essential. Balance and core strength help you stay on your feet safely. Cardio work for a healthy heart and endurance helps keep you independent. Exercising regularly is a key part of aging well and staying in your home. Following a workout plan that supports your lifestyle is essential.

Choosing to stay safe and independent in your home is the first step to successful aging in place. Learning about options and creating strategies to prepare for transitions is the next step. Proactively investing in your future well-being is how to accomplish your goals.

Want more information? I’ll work with you to make your home more accessible and safe. Email me so we can talk about your needs and how to achieve your goals.

Susie Landsem
Aging in Place by Design

Slow Down the Aging Process

Did you ever hear anyone say, “I swear I don’t eat more than I used to but I’m gaining weight,” or “I weigh the same as last year but I can’t fit in the same size?” What in the world is going on?

We lose between 1/2 to 1 pound of muscle each year as we age beginning at age 20, just as a natural part of the aging process. Here’s how that effects us: A pound of muscle burns roughly 50 calories a day. A pound of fat burns -2 calories a day, because it’s actually part of our fuel supply.

Now imagine what happens when we lose a pound of muscle. We now eat 50 calories a day more than our body burns. So naturally that extra 50 calories is stored as fat. That translates at 3500 calories a pound to a pound extra every couple months. Add more muscle loss and fewer calories a day burned and more and more fat storage. This leads to slower metabolism (your body burns fewer calories a day) and weight gain.

That’s bad enough but read on! A pound of muscle is about the size of a bar of soap. A pound of fat, however, is the size of a pound of lard. Multiply that by 5 and see how that effects your clothing size!

We lose muscle and replace it with stored fat and we get bigger and softer and flabbier. It sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Sounds like the “normal” aging process. The good news is you can change all that by strength training regularly.

By building muscle to replace lost muscle we can overcome the losses that seem inevitable with the aging process. Think about it. As we build muscle we burn more calories (faster metabolism). When we use more calories than we are taking is as food we start using our stored fat which slims us down. As we take off that layer of fat the tone and shape of our muscles show through and we look firm. Now think of exchanging fat the other way around. If you lose 5 pounds of fat and gained 5 pounds of muscle, there would be no change on the scale, but look again at the difference between a bar of soap and a pound of butter and imagine what would happen in the way your clothes fit.

Yes, aerobic exercise is essential, and it does help to burn fat, but it won’t maintain and build the muscle you need to keep your metabolism active.

The best news is that strength training is no longer the domain of only body builders and the young. It has been found to be the very most effective use of exercise time. Three times per week for about 20 to 30 minutes per session is all that is necessary to strengthen and tone your muscles.

Studies abound on the benefits of strength training; lower blood pressure and heart rate, more stamina, better circulation and general body functions, etc. It is never too late to start. Huge benefits have been achieved by men and women of all ages and ability levels.

Before beginning any exercise program, get your doctor’s approval. Then make an appointment with a certified personal trainer to get started on the right foot. Don’t wait another day. You CAN slow down the aging process!