As we get older, the rooms in our homes that we used to run in and out of all day, can suddenly become dangerous. Many injuries result from hazards that are easy to overlook, but also easy to fix. By spotting these hazards and taking some simple steps to correct them, many injuries might be prevented. Here are some safety suggestions for the areas of the home where accidents are most likely to occur.
Stairs often become a major challenge when we get older. If you live in a multi-story home, and are having vision and mobility issues, you need to consider options for getting up to and down from the upper floors safely. Check and make sure any carpet on stairs is very secure. If the treads are bare, consider installing non-slip rubber stair treads for better footing. Make sure they’re securely attached with adhesive, staples or carpet tacks. Mark the edges of each steps with fluorescent adhesive tape so you can clearly identify them. When looking at alternatives to stairs, the two primary options are ramps and stair lifts.
- Ramps are generally less expensive, and because they are not electric, tend to be less prone to needing repairs. There are also portable ramps that can be moved into cramped spaces.
- Another option is to consider installing a stair lift. Stair lifts are motorized chairs that lift the person the entire length of the stairs. The person then rises from the seated position and has full access to that level of the home. There are many types of lifts, including inclined platform and vertical platform and they are becoming more common because they can be customized to fit any type of staircase, and accommodate any amount of vertical rise.
Flooring has a great impact on your safety as you get older, and should be carefully considered for every room in the house. Slips and falls are big concerns for older people, and flooring is the main culprit. You need to install flooring materials that are smooth, non-slippery, and not prone to buckling or bunching. These features will provide a surface that will not cause slips, trips, or falls, and a surface that is easy to clean. Avoid ceramic and stone tile, and hardwood that has been buffed too shiny, but if you have them already, apply a non-slip surface to them. Use double-sided tape or non-stick carpet mesh to keep throw rugs in place. More than 6 people per day over the age of 65 are treated in the ER for injuries associated with loose rugs.
Also consider widening any doorways that may prove difficult for you to get through. Especially if you are or think you might be needing a cane or a wheelchair.
Living & Family Room
Any items in the living or family rooms that are low to the ground should be removed because these are tripping hazards. These may include: magazine racks, statures, or low coffee tables. Move anything else that is difficult to see or has protruding parts, out of any walk paths.
The bathroom is often the most dangerous room in the house for seniors. There is a long list of things that need to be modified in this room including:
- Don’t use oily bath products or lotions that can cause a fall if they get on the floor.
- Consider installing firmly attached grab bars throughout the bathroom and in areas where you need to bend and get back up.
- Replace the shower door with a shower curtain because they provide easier entry and exit, and are less dangerous if you fall in the shower. Also consider a shower chair, and if you need to sit when you shower purchase a shower wand.
- Any bath mats should be secured with suctions or Velcro. And any loose rugs should be removed from the room.
- There are modified toilets that are taller and work better for you if you are having balance issues.
Getting older demands that we all do things a little differently, and these common sense suggestions are small changes when you consider the potential physical problems they will help you avoid. Take them to heart and make your home safer. Your family will feel better about it and so will you.