87% of older adults aged 65 and older say that they want to grow old in their own home. If they start falling, that may be the limiting factor that does not allow them to achieve their goal. As a family member of an older adult or as an older adult yourself, there are several things that you can do to set up the home with fall prevention in mind. Below you’ll find a list of practical things that you can do right now to improve safety. Here are 10 ways to fall-proof your home.
1.) Remove loose rugs.
They often cause trips and stumbles. If you insist on keeping a rug down, secure it to the floor. The easiest way to do this is by using double sided tape. There is a great product called carpet tape that I highly recommend. Pay extra attention to the corners of rugs.
2.) Put down a slip resistant mat in the bathtub or shower.
This will allow for comfortable, non-slippery footing when standing on the wet ceramic.
Also, get a shower chair or tub transfer bench. The shower chair is obviously for sitting on in the shower. The tub transfer bench allows a person to sit on the bench and then lift their legs up into the bathtub rather than having to step over the side of the tub to improve safety even further.
3.) Put non-slip strips on any stairs that are not carpeted.
Wooden stairs can be incredibly slippery, especially for sock feet. Non-slip strips will increase friction. Added bonus: they give a visual cue for those that are losing their vision (especially depth perception) which increases stair safety.
4.) Ensure that there is plenty of light at all times, especially along the path from your bed to your bathroom.
Use nightlights or simply leave a lamp or overhead light on that will not disturb sleep. Additionally, make sure that home entrances/exits are well lit. If possible, set up these areas with multiple light sources to prevent safety issues when one inevitably burns out.
5.) Install grab bars around the toilet and tub/shower.
They are inexpensive and easy to install. DO NOT use a towel rack as a grab bar. They are far too flimsy and can easily be pulled off the wall. There are special grab bars made for the shower that have suction cups which stick to the wall. These suction shower handles are a good substitute when more secure installation is not an option. The previous grab bars I mentioned are fairly standard, but depending on the amount of available space in your bathroom, you may need more customized grab bar options such as a flip-up grab bar or a bathtub bar.
6.) Remove trip hazards such as boxes, cords, unnecessary furniture, etc from walking paths including hallways and stairways.
If a cord cannot be moved out of a walking path then purchase a cord cover or tape the cord down to prevent tripping. Secure cord covers to the floor with the carpet tape that I mentioned above.
7.) Install a grab bar or railing for all stairs.
The most common places for stairs that don’t have railings are back door and garage entrances. You can simply secure a grab bar to the wall or door frame if there are only 1 or 2 steps.
8.) Install a ramp.
If the stairs continue to be a hazard then consider having a ramp installed. Look into renting a portable one if you won’t be needing it long term. If you have a single step between rooms in your home or an entry threshold then what’s known as a “threshold ramp” can help.
9.) Have a stair lift installed.
When it is no longer safe for a person to manage a full flight of stairs but they want to remain in their multilevel home, a stair lift can be very helpful. Basically, it is a motorized chair that is professionally mounted to the wall and runs on a track alongside your stairs. It works by lifting you up and down the stairs while you sit safely on the chair. This is the most expensive option listed, but it is a great one for those who need and can afford it.
10.) Place items where they are easy to reach.
Make sure that the most used items in your pantry, cupboards, and refrigerator are not on the very top or the very bottom shelf. Keep the items that you use on a daily basis out on the counter so you can reach them with ease.
Click below to have 10 more home safety ideas sent directly to your inbox. Each item on the list is something that you can complete in minutes and without having to buy any equipment!