Help Seniors Live Safely & Comfortably
by Eliminating Safety Hazards at Home
Guest article by Anna Graves, a freelance writer
who lives on a farm in upstate New York.
Researchers from Colorado State University reported what most of us long suspected—the number one reason seniors fall in their home is tripping over something they didn’t see on the floor. The dangers don’t stop at the front door, either; uneven sidewalks, poor lighting and steep inclines present challenges for seniors. While you can’t remove every risk of a fall, you can explore your options to ensure your home (or the home of an elderly parent or friend) is safe.
First Things First
Every room in the home has potential dangers. Take a tour of the home with a friend or relative and look for hidden risks of a fall. Widening doorways, modifying the bathroom and installing sturdy handrails (inside and out) improves safety. Some improvements are simple and only cost a few dollars, but if the home needs some major remodeling to make it safer, you might be wondering the best way to pay for everything.
Ask yourself: Should I take out a home improvement loan? Could I sell my annuity to make these repairs? Do some research before deciding which option is best for you. Information available at annuity.org can help you explore options for converting your annuity from a disbursement schedule to a lump sum payment. Go to interest.com to find out what your monthly payments on a home equity loan will be. Talk to a local real estate broker to find out which home improvements increase property values.
Take a Trip to See the Grandkids, Not the Emergency Room
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics show that in 2010, 2.3 million elderly people received treatment at the emergency room for nonfatal, fall-related injuries. Loose rugs add warmth and comfort to your home, but they pose a serious risk.
Good Idea: Remove loose rugs. Free.
Better Idea: If you want the comfort and beauty that loose rugs add to your home, use anti-slip tape to secure your rugs to hardwood and laminate flooring. By the way, commercial grade anti-slip tape is available for outdoor stairways, ramps and other areas that pose slipping hazards. Clean surfaces thoroughly before attaching tape. Install strips outdoors on a clear, warm day for best results. Find rug tape at homedepot.com or a store in your neighborhood. Cut strips to fit each corner, remove backing and press. Total investment? About $10.
Best Idea: Replace old carpet and waxed hardwood with textured ceramic or glass tiles. Why? Glossy, waxed hardwoods are slippery. Aging carpets have threadbare spots; stretching causes uneven surfaces that can cause a fall.
Let the Light Shine Bright
Some studies suggest you need twice as much light to see clearly after age 65. Alesha E. Churba, a certified specialist in the relatively new field dubbed “aging in place,” recommends a light switch at the entrance to every room in the home to prevent tripping in the dark. Don’t want to hire an electrician? Add night lights to hallways, replace low-watt bulbs with cool, non-glare LED bulbs and use portable lamps for directional lighting.
The following list is most closely related and pulled from over 60 articles on this site about preparing homes for the elderly.
- Slip Proofing Your Home, by Brian Schiller
- Home Improvement Trends
- Household Tips for Aging in Place
- Home Modifications can Change Lives
- Have you Boomer-proofed your Home?
- Home Renovations that can Save the Estate
- How do you prepare a home for the disabled or elderly?
- Elders Get a CAPABLE Hand in Shoring Up Home Safety
- CAPABLE means Home, not Nursing Homes, for Seniors
- Occupational Therapists Help Modify Homes for Life
- Aging-in-Place advice for Contractors
- Universal Design Makes Home Accessible
- Singing in the Shower – More than Accessibility
- Universal Design: Homes That Work for Everyone
- National Demonstration Home for Universal Design
- Bathroom Safety Features That Support Your Style
- Bathroom Solutions for the Ages
- Doorless Showers Open a World of Possibilities
- Don’t Look Back – the inspiring story of Danny & Shelly
- Brianna’s Smart House
- Sensor Network to Protect the Elderly
- Managing Stairs: The Stair Lift
- Home Elevators: A Rising Trend