Every year, three million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries, with around 55% of these falls occurring inside the house. According to a study by Gill et al, older people living in dwellings without stairs most often fall in five key areas: hallways (10%), bathrooms (13%), kitchens (19%), bedrooms (30%) and living rooms.
If you live alone, guard yourself against falls by ensuring your home is as fall-proof as possible. Or if you have an aging loved one, make sure their place is safe by following these 4 tips.
How to Make a Home Safe for Seniors
1. Flooring is Key
Many seniors slip and fall because of slippery surfaces. Marble can get very slippery when wet but is also very tough on bones and muscles if a fall should ensue. Carpet will give you a much better grip. If you have asthma or dust allergies and you prefer hard flooring, wood or laminate are preferable to natural stone, ceramic, or porcelain tiles. Talk to a builder about specific anti-slip material as well; some of the most efficient options include rubber, cork, and bamboo.
2. Home Layouts for Seniors Matter
It is important to take a long hard look at your home and to identify possible triggers for trips and falls. These can include low-lying furniture and decorative pieces. The layout of your home should suit your specific needs. For instance, if you have limited mobility, having tall furniture pieces that are within reach of each other will give you something to hold on to.
Tidiness is also key. Sometimes even a small item such as a bottle cap or a grandchild’s toy can result in an unpleasant fall, so make sure your floor space is completely clear. For extra safety, ensure you have a telephone in more than one room, or better still, a wearable device, which informs the emergency department if you fall. Avoid hallway rugs and other small sized fabrics that can become a tripping risk. Revisiting the home layout for seniors living in the space can reduce possible trips.
3. Reducing Painful Daily Activities
Arthritis.org estimates that around 31 million Americans are affected by osteoarthritis. If you have joint pain, it can be difficult to turn doorknobs, open the water faucet, or sit on/get up from low toilet seats. If you have the budget for it, it is important to make a few changes to make day-to-day life easier.
These may include installing a raised toilet seat or raising kitchen equipment, so you don’t have to bend over. Other changes are cheap and easy; for instance, if it hurts your joints to use a doorknob, a simple doorknob grip will lessen your burden. To ease stability and comfort when getting in and out of a bath or when getting up from a favorite chair, grab bars are the way to go.
4. Joining Spaces Together
Changes in levels between one room and another can be a major source of falls. It is easy to remedy this, by installing a ramp-type transition between the two rooms. You can either have a transition made or use a ready-made rubber ramp, provided the latter is stable and large enough to cover walkable areas.
We have mentioned just a few ideas on how to make a home safe for seniors although there are many more you should consider, such as:
- Good lighting
- Fixing kitchen and other equipment at suitable heights
- Removing steps from the main entrance
Please note: If you find that your balance is off or that you feel weaker than normal, see your doctor to ensure pain, vision, or other problems will not increase the likelihood of falls.
For additional questions, please reach out to The Pillars senior living. Our communities are uniquely designed to accommodate all our residents for a safe place to live.