5 Safety Tips for Seniors Living at Home
As we age, our home may not be as easy to navigate as it once was. Getting up and down a set of stairs may be a chore because of decline in mobility. The risk of slipping and falling in the bathroom is likely much higher, especially if there are no grab bars in the bathtub/shower, or near the toilet. An option for seniors who are having a difficult time staying safe at home is a senior living facility. In most areas around the country, there are many senior living facilities that offer care and assistance. However, a senior living facility does not have the familiarity and comfort that a home does. A home is full of memories from parties and gatherings with family and lifelong friends. It is the place where a majority of seniors prefer to stay as they age.
According to the AARP, 87% of seniors age 65+ prefer to age in place. So, even though senior living facilities are an option for seniors with limited mobility, it is not the most preferred option in the United States. Most seniors want to age in place because they enjoy their current home, and are familiar with the local community as well as their nearby neighbors. Aging in place is also much more affordable than moving into a senior living facility or a new home.
EHLS is a company that provides accessibility and mobility solutions for seniors, such as stair lifts, wheelchair lifts, and wheelchair ramps. We have been serving the greater Chicago area since 1991.
Below is a list of home safety tips that will help seniors with limited mobility stay safe at home and remain independent.
A home that is fully accessible can significantly increase safety and reduce the risk of falling for seniors with limited mobility. If the stairs inside or outside the home become difficult to manage, consider adding a stair lift, wheelchair lift, or wheelchair ramp. Most often a stair lift works best for a senior who can still walk but has difficulty navigating the stairs, while a wheelchair lift or ramp works best for seniors who use a wheelchair or powerchair. An accessibility expert from EHLS can help decide which solution will work the best for your needs and situation.
A lift or ramp will allow seniors to remain independent and have easy access to all levels of the house.
It is also important to check the driveway and sidewalks near your home for cracks. If there are any cracks in the cement near your home, ask a son, daughter, friend, or neighbor to fill the crack. Also, some villages or towns have a maintenance person who can come fill a crack in the cement outside your home. These types of cracks are a tripping hazard and can lead to a fall, which can result in a serious injury.
Having adequate lighting in all rooms in a home is very important. Being able to see clearly helps seniors avoid obstacles, maintain balance and reduces the risk of falling at home. Double check the light switches and light bulbs to ensure they are all working. Touch or motion sensor lights can be very helpful for seniors.
Ensuring that all lights are working properly in a senior’s home is one of the easiest ways to reduce the risk of falling.
- The furniture in a home, whether it be a couch, chair, or table, should be safe and reliable
- Small tables or stools should remain out of walkways to prevent a trip or fall
- The bed should not be too high or too low – the bed should be at a safe height
A bedside commode is also a great addition if a senior’s mobility makes it difficult to quickly navigate to the nearest bathroom.
The bathroom often presents many tripping hazards for those who have limited mobility. In fact, the bathroom is where most at-home senior falls and injuries happen.
- Need support while showering or getting on/off the toilet?
Grab bars are a great addition to the shower/bathtub and near a toilet. They provide added support and stability when taking a shower or bath and getting on/off the toilet.
- Is the toilet too high or too low?
Getting on and off a toilet that is too high or too low increases the risk of falling. A product such as a toilet incline lift will increase safety and reduce the risk of falling. The EZ-Access toilet incline lift (TILT) is easy to use and built for durability.
- Is it difficult to step in/out of the bathtub or shower?
A walk-in shower or tub is a perfect solution for seniors who are no longer able to lift their foot up to step into a shower or tub. EHLS can install a walk-in shower or walk-in tub, but a walk-in shower is usually the better solution. Grab bars are also often added to provide support and stability in the bathtub or shower.
A slip-resistant mat, like the one pictured below, is another way to prevent slipping in the bathroom.
5. Other Home Safety Tips
- Check the floor for pet toys, loose throw rugs, or other small items to prevent any possible tripping hazards
- Wear safe, slip-resistant footwear to reduce the risk of falling
- Do a routine check on your smoke/CO detectors so that you know they are working properly
- Use a medical alert system – Mecial alert systems such as Life Alert can be very helpful in the case of an emergency – it’s always best to be prepared!