Home Safety Tips

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The goal of many families is to keep their elders living at home for as long as possible. That expectation can be dashed when someone has a fall in the home. It is no secret that vision, hearing and balance decline with advancing age, leading to an increased risk of falling. It is a good idea to periodically evaluate your home to make sure that practical steps have been taken to reduce the risk of falls. Here are some tips:

Bathrooms

A bathroom requires sure footing, good balance and muscle strength. Bathrooms are much safer with these features:

  • Grab bars by the toilet and in the shower that are fastened to the wall studs
  • Non-skid surfaces in the shower and on the bathroom floor.
  • Shampoo and soap shelf at waist to shoulder level
  • A seat in the shower for those who cannot stand for long periods.
  • A hand held shower nozzle.
  • A high toilet seat
  • A night light

Kitchens

Falls unrelated to cooking (a topic not covered here!) occur in the kitchen when people try to reach dishware or pantry items that are stored high up or low down.  Here are somensuggestions:

  • Locate commonly used items in cabinets at waist to shoulder height
  • Use non- wax or non-slip finishes on the kitchen floor
  • Purchase smaller, lighter weight cookware

Bedrooms

Common accidents involve tripping over something in the dark,  and getting up too fast and losing one’s balance. These feature can help:

  • A clear, uncluttered pathway from the bed to the bathroom.
  • A lamp that can be easily turned on from the bed.
  • A phone by the bed, allowing calls to be made and received without the need to get up.
  • A night light to illuminate the path to the bathroom at night.

Common areas

In all other areas of your house the lighting should be bright enough to see easily, and there should be no clutter or electrical wires on the floor. The features listed below considerably increase the safety of the home and the ease of use by older adults:

  • Floor surfaces without scatter rugs or other tripping hazards
  • Flush thresholds
  • Handrails on both sides of the staircase
  • Brightly marked treads if they are not easily seen
  •  Light switches for the stair lights at both the top and bottom of the staircase

Common practices

In addition to these features, people can reduce their risk of falling if they follow these simple suggestions:

  • Turn on a light before you get out of bed at night
  • Walk in the house with shoes on, not in stocking feet or loose fitting slippers
  • Get out of bed slowly, giving your body time to adjust to your change in position

These suggestions will not assure that no one will fall, but they will increase the likelihood that older people can remain safely in their own homes for longer periods of time.

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