Home Improvement Tips to Reduce Fall Risk

May 5, 2014

More older adults are choosing the option of remaining in the comfort of their own home or “aging in place” rather than relocating to a senior community. Many seniors are also remaining active and are continuing to cook, clean and even take on home improvement projects just as they always have. However, with age and health decline, balance and mobility issues can often become a problem. At the same time, fragile bones and other health conditions often mean a small fall could have serious consequences. Since many falls occur in the home, the easiest way to prevent injuries before they happen is by improving the layout and set-up of your home. Many of these projects are quite simple, but could make huge strides in your safety around the house.

Open Up Floor Space
This can be as simple or as complex as necessary. If you have unused furniture, perhaps you can clear it out. For instance, if your living room has a couch, loveseat, two chairs and multiple tables, look at this setup and see if there are things you can do away with to open up more floor space. Homes with multiple decorative pillars or walls could benefit from a professional remodel. Anything that opens up the floor space will make it easier to walk around safely.

Reduce Slip Hazards
Hardwood floors are very slippery and can be a cause of falls. However, certain rugs can be just as big of a risk. Installing carpet throughout the house may make it easier to walk around safely. If this is not an option, using safe, non-slip rugs are a better solution than loose rugs.

Improve Lighting
You are much less likely to trip and fall if you can see what you are doing. Make sure there is easy-to-use, adequate lighting. Use higher wattage bulbs or add some floor and table lamps to better light your home and prevent tripping.

Install Bathroom Rails
The bathroom can be a very dangerous place. It is often difficult to maneuver in the smaller space, the floor can be wet and getting into and out of the tub is tricky for anyone. Installing rails in the bathroom is an important way to stay safe. For the best results, consider having these professionally installed instead of using a kit.

Dealing with Stairs
It may be time to reduce your use of stairs in the home. If you can move your bedroom downstairs, you may seldom have to climb. If you do have to use the stairs regularly, consider a stair lift. If this is not an option, make sure the bannister is solid and secure and perhaps add a chair to the landing so you can rest in mid ascent, if necessary.

As you can see, a few simple improvements within your home can help you to avoid trips, falls and other mishaps as well as improving your ability to move around your home. Then, you can accomplish all those things you have been meaning to do around the house—and stay safe while you do so!

About the Author

Doug Breuer is co-founder of MyCareMatch.com and has worked in senior care for the last 9 years for the State of Oregon. From investigating cases of elder abuse to managing the delivery of long term care to residents of Central Oregon, Doug has been involved in all aspects of senior care.

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