Because older adults tend to spend a lot of time at home, that’s where the majority of injuries and accidents take place. Falls are the leading cause of injuries of all types for people over 65. But the good news is that most falls are preventable and you can make changes in the house that can greatly decrease the likelihood of a fall.
Begin by walking through your loved one’s home with a fresh eye to the possible dangers. In general, when assessing the space, keep in mind that there needs to be good lighting and easy access to the things used most. Look for problems with clutter, loose rugs and potential obstacles in pathways. Some changes might make the space look less attractive, but try to choose safety over style. The combination of water, slippery tiles and hard surfaces make bathrooms riskiest for seniors, so pay special attention when you’re making modifications there.
If you’re not sure about where to start, you could look for help from a professional, such as an occupational therapist or a Certified Aging-in Place Specialist—a builder trained to modify homes for safety.
Room-by-room modifications to consider to make your loved one’s home as safe as possible:
- Install safety grab bars inside and outside of the tub and next to the toilet
- Switch out regular bath mats with nonslip rugs
- Add a nonslip rubber mat in the shower or tub
- Consider a shower chair or hand-held shower head
- Install a cushioned raised toilet seat
- Move often used items to the counter and lowest shelves to reduce reaching and avoid the need for a stepstool
- Replace scatter rugs with heavy rubber-backed rugs or remove them altogether
- Disable or remove the stove if you are concerned that your loved is no longer able to use it safely
- Remove obstacles to create a clear pathway between appliances
- Install grab bars if possible
- Install a bed rail to avoid falling out of bed and to provide a steady support for getting in and out of bed
- Remove loose rugs
- Make sure the light near the bed is easy to reach
- Have a phone within easy reach of the bed
- Keep the path from the bed to the bathroom clear
- Install a motion sensor night light aimed at the floor to clearly light the path to the bathroom
- Remove all loose rugs or attach them to the floor with double-sided tape
- Make a clear walkway by moving or removing small furniture
- Add handrails where needed
- Cover sharp corners or table edges with padding
- Keep pathway clear of clutter
Home Care Angels provides assistance with daily activities, such as dressing, eating and personal care, from home service aides. Please call 847.824.5221 to speak with one of our Client Care Coordinators if you would like more information on in-home care.