If you have a loved one who’s at risk of falling in their home, you can be their hero by taking steps to make their living space safer. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), millions of older adults fall every year. In fact, more than one out of every four people 65 and older will experience a fall each year, and one out of every five falls results in a serious injury such as broken bones or head trauma. 

Here are a few simple yet potentially life-saving tips for fall risk interventions at home.

Lighting

Poor vision at night or in darker parts of a home is a common hazard that is easily minimized with adequate lighting throughout the home. Consider adding these accessories to reduce the chances of falling in the dark: 

Night Lights

Kids love them… and adults should too! Keep hallways, stairs, and any other poorly lit or hard-to-see areas safe and visible. You can find countless styles available at most department or hardware stores, as well as low-wattage LED bulbs that use a minimal amount of electricity. They are available in many styles and make fun and easy gifts or stocking stuffers.

Automatic Light Switches 

It doesn’t take a big budget to upgrade some (or all) of your house’s light switches to automatic models. Choose from motion sensors, light sensors, or timed light switch features. They can be replaced relatively easily with only a little bit of wiring.  If you are not experienced in working with electrical upgrades, be sure to look to a handyman or construction professional for support to keep everyone safe.

Pathways

One common cause of falls in the home is tripping. Review these tips to ensure that walking through the home is easy and unencumbered:

Tidy Up

Keep pathways clear anywhere people need to walk in the home. Remove clutter of any kind, including pillows, books, or any item that may end up on the floor. 

Carpets and Rugs 

While rugs may be pretty, they can prove to be dangerous tripping hazards, especially for anyone unsteady on their feet. Do a visual inspection of your carpet to make sure it’s secured to the floor in all places. 

Arrange Furniture 

For the purpose of safety, it may be necessary to rearrange the furniture in your home. Make sure all pathways through the house are clear, visible, and unobstructed. 

Slippery Surfaces

The bathroom is the number-one room in the house where falls occur. With wet, slippery surfaces just about everywhere you turn, the bathroom begs for modifications for keeping seniors and others safe. Here are some useful suggestions for making your bathrooms a more secure place for frequent use: 

Grab Bars 

When the Americans with Disabilities Act was established, grab bars became ubiquitous in public restrooms across the country. Now they’re becoming a regular feature of residential homes, as well. They’re extremely helpful in keeping a person steady on their feet, whether they’re in the shower, using the toilet, or moving around in the bathroom.

Slip-Resistant Flooring 

In addition to grab bars, seriously consider installing slip-resistant surfaces on the floor and in the shower and tub. Plenty of options are available, from vinyl floor replacement to adhesive strips that can be strategically placed for any user. 

Stairs

Second only to bathrooms, stairs are the other leading cause of falls in the home. Aside from ensuring handrails are stable and there is no loose flooring, you can find several options for making the stairs in your home safer: 

Stairlifts 

When stairs prove too much of a danger for going up and down, stairlifts provide an ideal solution. Various models can be installed on just about any stairwell configuration, and keep the user safe and secure while gently moving them in either direction. 

Stair Treads 

These vinyl treads can be placed on top of any existing wood, concrete, or metal stairs, with a ribbed pattern that provides stability for each step. 

Ramps 

If you have a set of stairs that’s only a few inches or a few steps from the floor, you can install a premade ramp either indoors or outside. Ramps provide a secure path over short obstacles such as door thresholds or any place with one to three stairs. We recommend hiring a professional to make measurements to make sure your ramp is installed correctly and with the right slope . 

Sitting and Reaching

Even the simple acts of sitting, standing, or reaching can prove difficult for many people, causing accidents and falls. Thankfully, you can find an array of fixtures, tools, and modifications that can make your home easier to navigate while keeping you safe. Here are a few ideas for anyone looking to make simple, everyday motions as secure as possible: 

Adjustable Height Toilets 

Getting up and down from the toilet, especially in a slippery room, can be aided by the addition of an adjustable-height toilet seat. By adding a couple more inches to the height of a toilet seat, you can make sitting and standing easier than ever. Lots of options are available, including affordable replacement seats as well as portable walkers with grab bars.

Countertops and Cabinets 

Make reaching for everyday items such as food, utensils, or cleaning supplies much easier by adjusting the height of your countertops and/or cabinets. While this solution can be more expensive (since a contractor must usually be hired), it can be well worth it to allow your loved ones to age in place and remain independent in their homes. 

Reach Stick 

It costs far less than remodeling your kitchen and can help out with multiple tasks around the house. Many reach stick models available today are high-quality tools (not toys) that help residents stay mobile in their homes. 

Pets

We love our pets! Yet they often can be the cause of falls in the home because of their unpredictable nature. Keep animals controlled in your home by taking advantage of portable gates that contain the pets to specific areas of the home — especially while you’re cleaning, cooking, or active in certain rooms around the house. 

Emergencies

Lastly, here are a few quick tips for keeping your loved ones safe even when accidents happen: 

Contact Info 

Keep essential phone numbers (relatives, neighbors, and healthcare providers) in a visible, easily accessible location(s) in the home. If your loved one has a mobile phone, be sure emergency contacts are easy to locate. 

Phone Within Reach 

Make a phone always within reach somewhere in the home — a place where the phone stays put and can always be found at a moment’s notice. 

Medical Alert

Numerous medical alert systems and devices are available these days that make it quick and easy for residents to call for help whenever it’s needed. 

Home Modifications for Fall Risk Intervention at Home

These and other home modifications can go a long way in fall risk intervention at home. No matter your budget, there are solutions and steps you can take to make any home safer for the people you love. 

If you have any questions about preventing falls or other home safety issues, you can always contact us at Omicelo Health. We’re dedicated to helping residents age in place in their own homes, and we’re always on hand to provide answers and guidance for safety-proofing your home. 

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