Normal aging can make the likelihood of a fall in the home increase. That one fall can have a ripple effect on how independent a person can continue to be and how much they need help from family members. While there is professional in-home care to help too, the best case scenario is to not fall in the first place.
By making a few simple changes you can save your loved one (and possibly you too) some time and money. If you have a loved one who is still enjoying living in their own home, see if you can implement any of these little changes to make them that much safer:
- Lights! Eyesight weakens with age and therefore improved lighting can be a big help. You can get brighter lightbulbs or add new lights (nightlights too) in all areas of the house, particularly entryways, hallways, and stairs. Glow-in-the-dark light switches can be useful and not too expensive or difficult to install. If you can spend more, consider motion-sensor lights can eliminate the need to fumble for a light switch in the dark.
- Clear the way. A lifetime in one house can lead to lots of stuff. While keepsakes are important, some items can become tripping hazards when they block a clear path from one room to another or just from one side of the room to another. Rugs (as opposed to installed carpet) can be risky, as can cords or toys for pets or children who visit often. Rugs need to be secured or removed; toys, leashes, and such need to be hung up or put away where they are easy to get to when needed. A general cleanup of old books, magazines, extra coats and shoes, tools, can be a good way to spend quality time together while making their home safer.
- Grab on. The bathroom is one of the more dangerous areas of the home with all the slippery surfaces. Check that the tub or shower has grab bars; buy a shower safe stool for sitting while bathing/showering; add a nightlight for nighttime bathroom use so they don’t have to find a switch. These changes are all affordable and don’t require a contractor, but you might also consider switching from a tub to a walk-in shower, switching out faucet knobs for levers, installing a non-skid flooring surface, and installing a vanity at the sink that can allow for a wheelchair, if needed.
Making a home safe for a senior doesn’t have to be expensive or require a huge toolbox. Little fixes here and there to brighten and declutter can go a long way to reducing fall risks in the home.