Now that Dad is home after his fall and thirty-day stay in rehab, we once again need to make a few home adjustments in order to keep him safe and sound. Our ultimate goal is to keep him living as independently as possible. We came up with a few ideas we hope you will find useful on how you can make basic alterations to your home and will enable your loved one to continue living an independent life without fear of falling, or much worse.
This isn’t the first time we have discussed home safety for seniors. It seems to be a thread that comes up often. Why? Because it is so important for all of us to remember how dangerous a fall in the home can be to their physical body as well as their fear of having something happen again.
There are some common areas that we can look at that can pose potential safety hazards. Thankfully, they can be altered to make those areas safer for our senior.
Check flooring. Make sure floors are consistent and level. In our case, we go from carpet to tile throughout our home, especially in the kitchen and bathrooms. It is quite possible that my father can either slip on the tile when leaving the carpeted area or trip on the carpet when he is shuffling along.
This has been a major concern to us, especially because his eyesight is bad and he is now also struggling with Alzheimer’s and doesn’t always remember to watch where he is walking. It may require a bit more of an investment if you have to redo an uneven floor but it will be more than worthwhile if it can prevent an accident.
If you have two rooms that have a slight step to indicate a change in floor height you need to ensure that it can clearly be seen from all angles. Sometimes the light reflecting off a step can cause them to trip and fall.
Throw rugs. Throw rugs can always be a hazard even when you have rugs with proper rubber backing or anti-skid backing. Large size rugs with the proper backing to prevent slippage and tripping are the best to use because seniors do have a tendency to shuffle their feet. Weigh down the rug with heavy furniture so that it cannot fold up and trip them. In fact, if you can possibly do without, that is the best way to prevent falls. The only place we have throw rugs at this point are in the bathroom, and the backing is the best – we know because we test them out.
Handrails. Do you have proper handrails on both sides of the stairs and have the stairs been covered with the right carpeting or are they shiny and easy to slip on? Do you have very narrow treads or are they wide enough for your feet to sit comfortably on? Fortunately, we have handrails outside the door as we have five steps up and down when entering or leaving our home. We are learning how to help Dad stay steady as he maneuvers those stairs.
Lighting. What about lighting? Is there sufficient lighting over stairways and passages? Put in an extra light or two in each of the rooms and never mind the slight additional expense. We have a night lite in Dad’s in suite bathroom so that he can make his way across the bedroom. Then he can turn on the bathroom light just inside the door. No sense fumbling around in the dark, a risk that has caused many problems for people of all ages, not to mention the danger to seniors.
Doors and windows. Make sure all your doors and windows have handles and latches they can manage and make sure you have a peep hole in your front door for safety. Always check to see who is at the door, even if you are expecting someone you know. It takes just seconds and it could very easily save your life.
If you care about your aging senior at all, you will go the extra mile to make sure they are safe, whether in their home or yours. It really doesn’t take a lot of money or time for you to make a few simple modifications to the living space. It’s well worth it when the result is to help them stay independent as long as possible, and help prevent possible fatal accidents from happening.