Your home is your safe haven, but for seniors or those with a chrronic illness, a house can too easily turn into a maze of hazards. In fact, according to the National Institute of Health, 60 percent of falls occur at home, but these incidents may be preventable. If you're caring for a loved one, there are steps you can take to create a sound living environment. Use this checklist as your guide for making modifications for a happier, healthier home:
1. Ensure home has adequate lighting
No matter how good your eyesight is, maneuvering in the dark is next to impossible. Keep others safe by equipping the home with adequate lighting. Go around the house and check for burned-out bulbs and replace them as necessary.
Additionally, consider the overall lighting structure. Walk through the house at night with the lights on, and see where the home could use some brightness. Perhaps one hallways is particularly dark, or you have to walk upstairs before being able to turn on the second-level light. In this case, you might benefit from bringing in an electrician who can install light fixtures in these spaces.
2. Install grab bars to promote safety at home. (Fall-proof the bathroom)
The bathroom is one of the most common places for falls due to activities like climbing in and out of a tub and stepping on wet surfaces. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the older someone is when they slip in this room, the greater their risk for injury.
It only takes a few modifications to make the bathroom a little safer. Consumer Affairs advised installing grab bars near the tub and toilet. Remember, towel racks are not a replacement for grab bars, as they are not as sturdy and could easily dislodge from the wall under a person's weight.
To prevent falls in the shower itself, use non-slip bath mats or considering placing a shower chair in the tub. The latter option is especially beneficial for seniors who have trouble balancing.
3. Clean up
This simple task holds a lot of importance. Straightening up a home by clearing clutter, tucking away electrical cords and bringing stools back next to the table they belong to can go a long way in reducing the risk of tripping. The National Safety Council also advised wiping up spills as soon as they occur to prevent the senior from slipping on a wet surface.
4. Remove un-necessary decor
Throw rugs are also a common cause for falls, as seniors may trip over their raised edges. Make sure rugs stay flat to the ground, or get rid of them altogether. You can certainly make someone feel accepted in your home without a welcome mat!