Making a home safe for a senior citizen should be a priority whether he or she is living alone or with you. You want to be sure the residence is equipped with all the proper safety devices and precautions especially when it comes to eliminating trip hazards. You can learn more about the common causes and risk factors for falls in the elderly in one of our recent blog posts. This checklist on how to prevent falls at home provides some guidelines for caretakers, family members, and the seniors. Of course, in any emergency, you should call 911.
Preparing the Home
When a loved one reaches a certain age and mobility starts to be limiting, it may be time to give her home an overhaul. She will need room to move about without worrying about tripping and falling over clutter. At the same time, you want to make sure that everyday items such as clothing, dishes, and medical supplies area easily accessible. Other ways to prepare a home so your loved one won’t have to worry about trip hazards are:
- Making sure doorways are accessible by wheelchair and walker (at least 34 inches wide)
- Modifying the flooring to remove trip hazards such as throw rugs, loose tiles, etc. Nonskid tile is preferable and easier to move on with a wheelchair
- If possible set aside one room in the house (downstairs) where every day items are accessible on lower shelves and in cabinets.
Since this is one of the most used rooms in a home, it is best to make sure it is also one of the safest. There are many trip and fall hazards in a bathroom, from slippery floors to bunched up throw rugs. Here are some ways to improve bathroom safety, and prevent falls and injuries:
- Use a non-skid mat or rug on the floor. Traditional throw rugs tend to bunch up and be a trip hazard.
- Install grab bars in the shower and/or bathtub.
- Use a raised toilet seat or install a toilet safety frame.
- Apply non-skid decals to the bottom of the tub; this will prevent slips and falls.
- Clean up water spills as soon as they happen.
Other Rooms in the House
Safeguarding a kitchen and living room for a senior citizen really isn’t more than using common sense. It’s important to make sure there is an ample amount of space to move around. This means removing clutter on the floors, tables, and countertops. Trip hazards such as rugs, electrical cords, trash cans and carts or shelving units should be removed or placed in area where they no longer become a risk. Other safety features to consider include having proper lighting including nightlights that go on automatically in the dark.
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