Last week’s Wellness Wednesday column focused on senior-related health and provided practical suggestions to prevent falls, that can lead to broken bones and a declining quality of life. As a follow up this week, we note that for many people aged 65 and older, health-impairing falls often happen inside the comfort of their own homes. With this in mind, here are suggestions on how to make a home safer and more “fall-proof.”
Keep essentials close at hand. Whether it’s a TV remote, a favorite coffee cup, a bedroom lamp or other household item, if you use it often, put it in a place that is easy to get to. The less reliance on reaching or travel, the less likely one is to experience a spill.
Keep clutter clear. This means keeping all extraneous items off of floors, removing loose cables or wires, cords and throw rugs, and putting furniture in places where it isn’t a barrier to movement from one part of a home to another.
Stabilize stairs. Use sturdy and secure handrails and consider marking the top and bottom steps with bright tape to reduce the chances of tripping. If your stairs are carpeted, make sure the surface is secured on every step. Keep the stairways well lit and get in the habit of turning on stair lights before travelling up or down.
No (s)kidding. Be mindful of surfaces and circumstances that can be slippery, and take proactive measures. This includes non-skid rubber strips or mats, and handrails or grab bars, for the shower and tub, non-skid mats or rugs near the kitchen stove and sink, and plastic chairs in a shower or bath if balance is a concern. Its also a good habit to clean up spills as soon as they occur. This is one more way to make sure you don’t encounter an unexpected slide.
Ultimately, careful, common sense is the best philosophy to ensure safe navigation, regardless of your age or your travels.