You may feel safe at home, but trip and fall accidents in the home account for the major reasons that individuals aged 65 and older wind up in the emergency room. There are an estimated 2.3 million falls each year in the home and because of this, it’s important – especially if you’re determined to age in place – that your home is as free of these hazards as possible.
Here are seven steps you can take to ensure your home is as safe as it can be and it all beings with looking at the home with an eye toward safety:
- Check the stairs for trip and fall hazards. These hazards could be slippery steps, uneven stair rises, loose railings, loose carpeting or objects left on the stairs.
- Make certain the bathroom is well-lit, install a motion sensor light for night time bathroom trips. Using motion sensor lights in dark hallways or staircases is also a great idea to amp up the safety in the home.
- Pick up household clutter. This clutter could range from stacks of books or magazines to stray shoes or other objects that impede movement from one room or location to another. If you have visitors or grandchildren over to visit, check that all toys and other objects are back in their prior locations.
- Resist the urge to climb ladders or use footstools to reach objects on high shelves. If you have items that you use on a regular basis, move them to lower shelves or cupboards to prevent your having to climb to get them.
- If you have pets in the house, make sure you know where they are because they have a habit of getting underfoot and can inadvertently cause you to trip.
- Get in the habit of carrying a cell phone or cordless phone with you at all times. The reason for this is, if the phone rings and you’re not close to it, you may rush to answer it and not pay attention to items that could cause a trip or fall. If you live alone or have health or mobility problems, it’s wise to wear your medical alert device, no matter where you are in the house or when you’re out in the yard. Being able to push a button to summon help in the event of a medical emergency is much easier and more quickly accomplished than fumbling with a telephone.
- The footwear you don when you get up in the morning also has an impact on your overall safety. Wearing socks or other footwear that doesn’t provide a non skid surface is dangerous, especially if you have hardwood or linoleum floors. Conversely, don’t want to wear shoes with thick, rigid soles as that will give you too firm a “grip” on the floor and could lead to a trip or fall.
As you age, you need to look at your home with an eye toward making changes that will keep you safe and that may mean asking your family and friends for help and advice on upgrades to the home or simply a thorough clean up. Don’t forget to add safety amenities such as grab bars in the showers or a bathtub that allows you to simply open a door and step in rather than stepping over a ledge, if that isn’t an option you want to make certain the tub floor has not slip decals. Adapting your home to your changing needs and level of mobility and using an in home medical alert device could extend the amount of time you can age in place.