As more and more people are considering aging in place as opposed to moving to assisted living facilities or Life Plan communities, it’s more important than ever to know how to best prepare the home for a person’s later years.
Whether you are prepping your own home or looking for ways to ensure your parents remain healthy on their own, the place to start is limiting the chances for a fall. This is one of the main factors that our team at At Home By Hunt talks with our members about when they join our program.
Among people 65 years old or better, nearly 800,000 visited emergency rooms due to injuries sustained falling on stairs, ramps, landings, or floors. Because the complications from a fall can be so damaging, it’s important to limit the chances of it happening in the first place as well as preparing for how to handle an event if it occurs.
Below are a variety of steps you can proactively take to reduce the likelihood of a fall in different places around the house.
Stairs and Hallways
Most falls happen on the move but it’s the in-between places in our home, where we’re most often on the move, that usually get ignored during the preparation process. Staircases present an obvious obstacle, and the main point we stress with our members is to only use the stairs when you are capable of it. Shifting your living quarters to the first story of your home is one of the best things you can do as you age.
There are less drastic precautions you can take that have a significant impact, though. Stairways and hallways are likely areas for falls because they are also darker than other areas of the home. As eyesight diminishes with age, the problem can multiply. Using nightlights and bright lighting can go a long way towards making these forgotten corners of the home a bit safer. For the ambitious homeowner, there are even systems like PathLights Wireless LED Stair Lights that detect motion and trigger other lights to turn on, providing a well-lit path at night.
Bathrooms are a frequent site of falls. Often, the floors are tile or linoleum, which can get slippery. There are many hard or sharp corners, and the room itself is often steamy or wet. For these reasons, one of the first safety modifications that most people make as they age is to install handrails in the bathroom.
Additionally, shower modifications can limit the chances of losing one’s balance in the shower. Replacing a wall-mounted showerhead with a handheld one can enable the use of a shower seat and limit the chances of experiencing a slip.
Finally, a high-rise toilet can make things easier for people who no longer want to lower themselves into such a pronounced sitting position.
Like the bathroom, the kitchen is a place that can get slippery quickly. The first thing to do it to place non-slip carpets or mats in high trafficked areas like in front of the sink or the stove. Additionally, the kitchen is often a place that gathers much of the debris of daily life, like mail, outdoor clothes, or extra shoes. Keeping those items organized and out of the way will ensure that there is always a clear walkway through the kitchen.
Emergency Response System
Regardless of how prepared a home might be, falls happen. On top of the modifications outlined above, we suggest setting up an Emergency Response System that will allow someone who has fallen to quickly notify the appropriate help. These devices have developed quite a bit in recent years, as some now have GPS capabilities and can detect falls that happen in the event that the person who fell is not able to use the device to call for help.
Here at At Home By Hunt, we are major proponents of this type of technology and work with our members to install systems in their homes when they join our program. While many people feel that they don’t need an Emergency Response System, we suggest purchasing one before you need it so that when you do, it’s at your disposal.