As you grow older, it becomes necessary to make a number of modifications around your home to reduce fall hazards. Because millions of adults over age 65 fall each year, home renovation is increasingly important. Renovating the entire home to prevent falls sounds like a challenge, but in reality, there are a number of simple steps you can take to make the process easier.
Start with the Stairs
If your home is on several different levels, the first step you can take is reducing the number of steps you need to climb on a regular basis. If at all possible, move the things that you really need to the main level of the house.
Is your bedroom upstairs? Consider installing a stair lift to make it easier to get to the top floor of your home. Avoid visiting the basement if at all possible, especially if no one is home to assist you. Install ramps at home entrances to make it safer.
Rugs are falls waiting to happen. Even large area rugs can develop bumps and lumps that will catch you unaware, but smaller rugs that are placed in front of appliances in your kitchen or in front of the tub and toilet in the bathroom are particularly dangerous. Even with good backing, these rugs can slip out from under your feet, which can potentially lead to injury.
Modify Your Bathtub
If you've used a sit-down bathtub all your life, you might find that as you age, you find a shower—particularly with a shower seat—to be a great deal more comfortable. Install a walk-in style to aid in the prevention of falls: getting your leg up over a tub might be safe enough now, but as your joints get stiffer, it will become more of a problem.
Install Hand Rails
Anywhere that the flooring is uneven or you're going to have to go up and down stairs—even just one or two—make sure that you have a sturdy hand rail to grasp. This will help improve your balance and reduce the chances of a fall when you least expect it. These hand rails can be especially helpful in bathrooms.
Light Up a Room
Replace burnt out or dim light bulbs with brighter lighting. Seniors often fall because the room is too dark. Even if it doesn't look dark to you, opt for higher wattage. As you age, changes within the eye restrict the light coming in and actually absorb the light; therefore, more light is necessary to compensate. Consider adding automatic night lights to help guide your through your home during darker hours of the day.
If there's a magazine rack on the floor, pick it up. Put away any shoes, books or other items that may have accumulate on the floor. Also replace any low-level coffee tables that your loved one could bump into or trip over. Make sure you have a clear path in all rooms. Get some additional tips to get rid of clutter in our guide to decluttering.
Cords running across the floor can pose as a huge hazard. Reroute or rearrange any electronic devices so cords aren't in the way. If you have to run wiring along the floor, try to hide the wires. You can use twist ties or binder clips to keep bundles of cords together rather than having multiple loose wires on the floor or near a desk.
Preventing falls with senior home renovations requires a willingness on your part to adapt to your aging body. When possible, institute these modifications before you need them to help yourself develop new routines that will make it easier to use them.
For additional tips to help make your home safe for seniors, use our Home Safety Assessment. It goes into further detail about potential fall hazards and can help you or a loved one remain safe at home.
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