How to Make a Home Fall-Proof for Seniors
Many accidents, including falls, happen at home. This can be extremely dangerous for seniors who can break hips and other bones from falls that might only bruise a younger person. Seniors who age at home need a safe environment. In addition, they may need assistance with some daily routines such as bathing and dressing. Here are a few suggestions for a safe, fall-proof home from the National Institute on Aging.
Clear Pathways and Hallways
To ensure a fall-proof home for seniors, pathways need to be dry and clear of debris. This includes hallways and other areas where anyone could trip and fall. Floors need to be clean and clear in all areas. A hallway with a loose carpet is dangerous. You can also apply no-slip strips to hard service floors. Electrical cords for lamps and other electronics should be kept against the walls to prevent people from tripping.
Many seniors use canes and walkers for assistance. The walkways and hallways must be clean to allow the mobility aid to move freely. Ensure to also clear driveways for easy access to the garage.
Seniors who live with their children and even grandchildren need floors that are clear of toys, books, as well as other items that can cause a person to fall.
Stairways Require Rails
Handrails are mandatory for staircases. Rails on both sides of a staircase make it even easier for seniors and others to climb even one or two steps. Staircases in homes usually have at least one handrail. If possible, add another handrail, often to the wall side of a stairway. The railings allow people to balance better and pull themselves up to the steps. A senior with mobility issues may also need help stepping up a high curb.
Keep the steps clean and free of any debris that can cause a person to trip. This is another area where carpeting that covers a step must be tight. Special no-trip treads can also be added to hard-surface steps in the home.
A staircase can become more difficult for people as they age, and their knees become a little weaker. A disabled senior may need a special electric staircase chair to move up and down a long staircase.
This is the place where people can slip on hard, wet floors and have other accidents. Grab bars should be placed by toilets, tubs, and in showers. There are several types of grab bars that can be added to a bathroom, based on its layout.
Try adding no-slip strips to the bathroom floor. Keep a bathmat in the tub, shower, and on the floor next to the tub or shower. This helps the person dry off before stepping on the floor. Throw rugs on other areas of the bathroom are not a good idea since they may cause a person to trip. Bathrooms should also have night lights for everyone's safety.
A light next to the bed is always helpful to people of all ages! Seniors may need special switches that are easy to reach during the night. Keep a flashlight next to the bed in the event of a power outage. A senior who needs a walker or wheelchair should have that immediately accessible to the bed. Rugs are not recommended and carpeting should be level and secure to ensure a fall-proof home.
The CDPAP program can help take the pressure off families and help them care for their loved ones. CDPAP is a New York State Medicaid Program in which a consumer can choose a caregiver to help with their daily living activities. This caregiver is compensated through a fiscal intermediary such as Elite Choice. Learn more about Elite Choice and the CDPAP program by calling us at 718.925.2900.
Written by: Leah Ganz
Leah Ganz, RN, BSN is the Director of Patient Services at Elite Home Health Care. She has an extensive background in homecare and previously worked in various specialties including pediatrics, pain management and internal medicine. She oversees all patient services across Elite's departments.