While there’s no 100% surefire way to ensure your elderly parent or loved one doesn’t fall, there are ways to make the event much less likely. Here is a quick checklist of five steps to a safer home for a senior.
Furniture, accessories, and narrow pathways
Is there furniture crowding a room or creating narrow pathways? Are there inessential items or decorations all over the house? None of us like to throw things away and we all know seniors love to keep antiques and knick-knacks, but sometimes they can pose a hazard to elderly home safety. That old rug underneath the coffee table can trip you easier than you think. Make sure there is nothing impeding easy travel throughout the house. A straight path is the easiest path so there should be no navigating around corners or edges.
Doorsills and steps
Now, these two sound like obvious culprits, but you’d be surprised how often they’re underestimated. A quick remedy is to paint doorsills a different color or buy reflective tape for the edge as a reminder that they’re there. This goes for the edge of stairs as well. Confirm that there’s no loose carpeting, unstable wood, or erosion of any kind on steps or doorsills. Also, make sure any area with a step or uneven surface is very well lit.
This one is perhaps the easiest of all. Double-check that all areas of the house are well lit, with bulbs at least 60 watts or higher in each socket. Remove all exposed cords and make sure any lamp or light-switch is within easy reach. If the lamp closest to a favorite reading chair is hard to reach while sitting, move it closer. Also, check that there is no risk of any lamp falling or being tripped over. Again, lamps should remain within reach, but still out of the way.
Keep a telephone, within easy reach, in each room. This prevents your elderly loved one from feeling compelled to rush to a ringing phone. Not only can getting up too quickly cause light-headedness or dizziness, but it can also cause an elderly person to lose focus on their surroundings and mistakenly fall in an easily preventable situation.
Bathroom floors and shower tubs can get slippery, we know this. To combat slipping, guarantee there are either bars affixed to the wall or a counter to grip while getting up and down off the toilet and in and out of the shower. Also, purchase adhesive grip-tape for the tub bottom and again, provide adequate lighting throughout the bathroom. Shower rugs can also slip so place double-sided tape on the bottom of the rug to impede the rug’s movement.
If you are worried about a loved one, these are very easy and painless steps to minimize the risk of in-home falls. As mentioned before, however, there is no 100% way to prevent accidents so medical alert systems provide a great backup. Not only do they give you peace of mind when you’re not around your loved one, but they make the wearer feel safe as well.
Jacob Edward is the manager of Senior Planning in Phoenix Arizona. Jacob founded Senior Planning in 2007 and has helped many seniors navigate the different types of care available in Arizona. This includes assistance to seniors and the disabled, finding and arranging care services, and applying for state and federal benefits.