Social Determinants of Health are the factors that shape someone’s community: access to things like health care, education, employment, and nutrition. Those determinants aren’t just related to the outside world, however: they’re also found right in our homes. Good homes help good health. Shelter is a basic need for human beings. Extreme heat or cold can lead to stress, sickness, hospitalization, and death.
Here are some things to watch out for, and some resources that can help:
Old paint and pipes can contain lead that enters drinking water and household dust. Older building techniques and materials can release radon into the air inside a home. Leaks in the roof or pipes can cause mold, triggering asthma and other respiratory problems. Good ventilation is important for everyone.
UProot Partner Resources
The State Department of Health has information and programs for lead paint, mold, and other common contaminants.
If you want to help your community, consider hosting a healthy homes workshop through the Mississippi State University extension service.
Many factors that make a home safe and healthy are common to every dwelling. Every home and apartment needs smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers. Many local fire departments offer free smoke alarms through projects administered by the state fire marshal. You can call your local fire department to find out when these offers are available.
Age-Related Home Risks
A healthy home can mean different things for different stages of life. New parents are often shown how a home can be made safer for infants and newborns.
However, falls in the home are a serious health risk among all age groups, especially for older people. For them, or for people recovering from surgery, stroke, or living with multiple sclerosis, changes like ramps, grab bars, and safety railings can prevent serious falls. For people with vision problems, lighting may need adjusting.
UProot Partner Resources
Hospital and medical care case workers can help you plan changes to make your home safer. The Mississippi Access to Care Network can help you find services for modifying homes for older adults. Go to the MAC website, search for services, check “home modifications” in the “services” box, and select the county of your choice.
Quality of Life
The physical condition of a house isn’t the only thing that affects the health of the people who live there. The condition of the neighborhood also has a role to play. Neighborhoods with properly maintained sidewalks encourage walking and fitness. Trees lower summer temperatures and improve moods. Parks and playgrounds get people outdoors and socially engaged. Lung-damaging air pollution tends to concentrate near factories and traffic.
Finally, the affordability of housing has an impact on health. Money spent on rent cannot be spent on quality food, medication, or doctor visits. Health can suffer when a large amount of income is tied up in rent.