10 Tips to Elder-Proof Your Home
As your family gets older, it’s natural to be concerned about their safety. The NCOA states that one in four Americans aged 65+ fall in their home each year. That’s an astounding number and reason to worry. To keep your loves one in their house longer, you want to make sure you elder-proof your home. We’ve got the ten best tips to protect your family from injury.
1. Make Sure the Walking Paths are Clear
Take a look at the furniture in your home. Does your loved one have enough room to walk around freely? If not, you need to move the furniture in a way that creates clear walking paths free of tripping hazards.
2. Remove Hazards
Aside from the furniture, you want to remove anything else that might cause slipping or tripping. This includes everyday clutter small décor, power cords and throw rugs.
3. Avoid Wet Floors
You need to be aware of the smallest amounts of water on the floor. After you do the dishes, check the floor and make sure there’s no water present. Also, watch for any drips from your faucets and showers that might lead to a slippery surface.
4. Secure the Carpets
Make sure all your rugs are non-slip or attach them securely to the floor with double-sided tape.
5. Slip-Proof Your Bathroom
There’s a variety of non-slip items you’ll want to install in your bathroom. Get non-slip strips for the rubber mat on the floor of your shower or bathtub. You can also get handles that make it easy to get in and out of the shower.
6. Check the Stair Handrails
The handrail is the most critical aspect of your stairs if you have seniors in the home. Because of this, you want to make sure they aren’t loose and that your loved one uses them correctly. In addition to using the handrail, you don't want them to carry any items while going up or down the stairs. Instead, they should use both of their hands to help them keep balance which prevents falls.
7. Light up the House
Good lighting is one of the easiest ways to elder-proof your home. As people get older, their eyesight begins to diminish. With ample lighting, your loved one remains aware of their surroundings and is better equipped to avoid obstacles. To begin, make sure every entrance and room is well lit. Similarly, pay especially close attention to the stairs and outdoor walkways. Above all, choose bulbs with the highest wattage available for each light fixture. Pay close attention to the lighting situation in the middle of the night. This is the most dangerous time for your loved one. Not only are they tired and their balance is off, but there aren’t often lights on at this time. Place a lamp on a nightstand next to their bed that they can turn on if they get up. You’ll also want to install night lights in the hallway, bathroom and kitchen. If you prefer, install motion-activated lighting, especially for nighttime trips to the bathroom. It’s also wise to put a flashlight on their nightstand, just in case. You don’t want them to get up if the power goes off without some sort of light.
8. Check the Hot Water Settings
While this isn't related to falls, it's a vital step to elder-proof your home. Make sure the max temperature of the water heater isn't hot enough to cause burns. The ideal setting would be 120 degrees Fahrenheit or less. You also want to ensure that all the faucets have clearly marked hot and cold knobs so your loved one doesn't become confused.
9. Fix a Slippery Staircase
In addition to #6, you also want to make sure the stairs coming into the home and traveling up to the second level aren’t slippery. Indoors, you can fix a slippery staircase with a variety of methods, including using Durabak. Outdoors, you can use Durabak on the stairs or you might consider eliminating them completely by installing a ramp instead. You can also add non-skid paint to a ramp for additional protection. This allows easier access to the front doors, especially if your loved one ever ends up in a wheelchair.
10. Get them an Extended Grabber
These tools help them to reach objects that are on the floor, behind furniture or up high without straining. By using an extended grabber, you eliminate the need for them to use step ladders or bend over unnecessarily.