Most seniors suffer from fall-related injuries in their homes. It is for this reason why a fall-safe house needs to be designed for each home in whch there is an elderly person, to help prevent such injuries. One fact needs to remain clear, aging persons suffer broken hips and fractures from a simple fall because their bones are weak. Statistics show that, a third of all seniors suffer fall-related injuries, some of which can be life-threatening. All these can be prevented by making minor adjustments (senior safety measures) in the house to accommodate this delicate generation.
This checklist has outlined some of the major changes you can adopt to design a fall-safe house.
1. Safety in all rooms
Electric and phone cords, boxes, newspapers, and furniture should be cleared/moved to create ample space in traffic areas.
Household appliances, bed covers, and clothing, should be stored where the elderly person can reach with ease. Most elders fall trying to reach for items that are high up, and this can be prevented by making everything easily accessible to them. Hallways should also be clutter free.
Whether the senior’s room is upstairs or not, make a point of ensuring stairways are equipped with handrails on both sides, and fastened securely.
Any carpets in the staircase should be removed or fastened to ensure they do not slip. In addition to this, mark each step with a brightly colored adhesive tape to improve visibility.
All floorboards need to be straight and even. Any carpets or rugs on the same should be removed if frayed, or fastened with tacks if they have to remain. You can alternatively use non-skid pads or floor wax to make it slip resistant.
4. The Safe Bathroom
Most of the fall accidents happen in the bathroom, and especially if it isn’t big enough. If the bathroom is too small, consider renovating it to make it spacious. The bathtub needs to be easy to get in and out, and an adjustable-height shower head installed in the bathroom. The soap dish needs to be fixed in an easy to reach area. In addition to this, consider installing reinforced grab bars inside the shower and near the toilet.
Since bathtubs tend to get slippery when wet, use non-slip bath mats in the tub and around the bathroom to prevent slipping over.
Ensure a bolted rod that is strong enough to hold a person’s weight holds shower curtains. An elderly person will try to cling to anything to stand up or in case of danger, which is the reason why you will need a bolted rod.
Consider replacing bathing bar soaps with a liquid soap dispenser. A bar soap may fall out of the tub, which could be dangerous especially if the elderly person attempts to retrieve it.
Since temperature sensitivity fades away as one gets older, consider setting safe water temperatures in the bathroom. The most recommended temperature for a senior is 120°F or below, as anything higher that that can be dangerous for his/her skin.
5. Safety in The Kitchen
Ensure all utensils are easy to reach especially those used frequently. If need be, have a sturdy step stool with a grab bar ready, in case one should need to use one in the kitchen.
Have lazy Susan’s trays installed inside kitchen cabinets. These trays make it very easy to pick a pot, pan or dish inside the enclosure as all one needs to do is spin the tray to access the item. This reduces strain from attempting to reach items that are inside the cabinet, or too high in the kitchen, which can toss one off stability.
6. Other additional safety measures for seniors in the kitchen are:
a. Consider replacing standard dials with large easy-to-read ones on the stove. The ON, and OFF, buttons needs to be visible clearly from afar.
b. Replace kitchen aprons and small towels with real potholders, and ensure they are easy to reach.
7. Entire Household Lighting
It is mandatory for bedrooms, hallways, and stairways to be installed with night-lights. Lights with motion sensors are the most recommended should one get up deep into the night.
Have light switches installed at the bottom, and top of the staircase for easy reach.
Consider having a telephone and a lamp placed near the bed for emergency purposes.
Uniform lighting is also required in all rooms as alternating brightness can blur a senior’s sight.
8. Within the house perimeter
Make sure paths and driveway do not have any potholes or uneven joints.
Ice, snow, and leaves should be removed from walkways and stairs very often.
Any staircase should have firm handrails installed on both sides.
The type of shoes that the senior has does play a significant role as well. Ensure he/she has thin non-slip and sturdy shoes to put on while in and outside the house.