Home may be where the heart is, but it can also be quite a scary place when considering that six out 10 falls occur in a person’s household. This concern becomes particularly dangerous when there is a senior involved, as falls are the main cause of injury for people aged 65 and over. Unfortunately, the simple fact of the matter is that the older you get, the more difficult it becomes to move your body the way it used to. And when coupled with poor eyesight and/or potential medication side effects, the chances of a nasty tumble only continues to escalate. So what can you do?
As with any safety matter, precaution is always your greatest defense. And thankfully, there are multiple small changes anyone can make to their home which will avoid the most common causes for a slip-up. Keep yourself on your feet by reviewing the points below and noting what your home is missing.
The Front Door
This is often an overlooked area, but accidents can happen before you even reach the house. If there are stairs leading to your front door, double check that there is no hazardous damages to their surfaces, as large cracks or uneven rises could lead to a stumble.
You may also want to consider installing a grab bar right by the handle so that the person unlocking the door has something to lean on during this process.
Trip risks are the main enemy of living areas. Look out for loose electrical cords, wires, and floppy rugs which could get in the way. Map out a walking path when arranging the furniture, and ensure the chairs are the correct height for the occupant. Finally, keep a list of all emergency contacts by the phone, and be very wary of any pets that may be roaming free in these rooms.
The greatest danger of the bedroom comes during the night when a person attempts to venture into the darkness to reach the bathroom. To minimize this scary prospect, light switches and bedside lamps should be easy to reach from under the covers, including a flashlight just in case the electricity goes out. There should also be a telephone on hand, rubber-soled slippers kept near, and a closely designated place for any canes or walkers if necessary.
For additional peace of mind, install a grab bar here too, and invest in a bedside floor safety mat, which could turn a potential major fall into a minor incident thanks to the substantially softer landing.
As a rule, the more fragile the object (like glasses, plates etc), the lower down in the shelves they should sit. Furthermore, everything in the kitchen should be reachable according to the resident’s height, paying extra special attention to those items which will be used every day. Another small tip is to keep hand towels ready in multiple easy to reach positions, allowing any slippery spillage to be addressed immediately.
Stairs can be a particularly worrying area, which is why you need to ensure these walkways are clear of clutter at all times. Recognize the value of installing handrails on both sides of the passage, and ensure there is a light switch on each end of the journey with ample brightness. For those who are hard of seeing, you can bring out the visibility the stairs by alternating their colors, or even by placing a contrasting color of tape on the corners of each stair, helping their edges to stand out better.
Bathrooms are notoriously the most dangerous rooms of the house, which is why you can never install too many grab bars here. There should be at least one by the toilet, by the shower, and by the tub. A great way to save space is to replace towel racks with grab bars, as they can be used as towel racks themselves. Besides this, non-slip mats are essential to avoid the wet tiles, and placing a seat in the shower can often make all the difference.
Finally, it is important to understand that all the money in the world cannot guarantee complete fall prevention, which is why investing in an emergency response system could be the cherry on top of your security cake. By pressing a button on an item of jewelry worn at all times, an individual can notify their next of kin or their doctor if a fall has taken place.
Other important information which applies to every single one of the above points, is that increased lighting is always a recommended idea, and whenever installing a new handrail, get a professional to do it.