According to the CDC, around 36 million senior citizens fall every year. About 1 out of every 5 falls results in some type of injury. It’s a fact of life: as we age, our bodies grow more fragile. And, in one’s Golden years, it becomes more important than ever to take preventative measures to ensure a happy and healthy retirement. So – what can you do to help avoid these accidents? Here are 5 home modification suggestions for fall prevention and minimizing accidents!
1, Swap slippery surfaces for carpet or non-slip flooring.
Few things are worse than that helpless feeling of losing your footing. You lurch forward, trying to hold your balance. Then, just as you’re about to hit the floor, your body naturally tenses up to break the fall and…OUCH! Best case scenario – you have a bruised knee. Worst case scenario – well, more serious injuries.
To minimize slipping and sliding, consider swapping hard surfaces for carpet or slip-resistant flooring like vinyl. If redoing all the floors in your house isn’t feasible, opt for area rugs wherever possible. However, when going with this option, keep in mind that rugs should be flat and secured to the floor to prevent curling. Most hardware and retail stores sell non-slip products like rug gripper pads. If you have a multiple-story house, consider the use of stair tread covers as well.
2, Increase accessibility and reduce fall risks by updating cabinets and storage.
Hire a contractor to revamp your kitchen. Lowering cabinets will prevent frequent reaching and straining. Simply storing your most-used items in bottom cabinets is also a great idea!
Do you keep holiday decorations or tools in your basement? Then consider adding storage space on your home’s main floor. A contractor can be hired to add and maximize closet space. Who wants to carry heavy totes up and down a bunch of steps anyway?
3, Bring the laundry room upstairs.
Is your laundry room in the basement? Do you wear clothes every day? If you answered yes to both of these questions, then it might be a good idea to bring those appliances upstairs! Ask a loved one or an aging-in-place specialist for help finding a contractor and get yourself an upstairs laundry facility added on.
4, Update your bathroom with fall prevention hardware and maybe even a new tub.
A myriad of bathroom modifications exist to make personal care safer. Consider the installation of grab bars and non-slip flooring. A higher toilet can make sitting and standing up easier. You may hire a contractor who can install a zero threshold shower and lower rinsing tools for easier access. Also, using a shower chair can reduce time spent standing up on a wet and soapy surface. And, of course, you could always get some bath mats and rugs to use wherever you’re unable to feasibly attain non-slip flooring.
5, Get better lighting.
Many seniors suffer from declining eyesight, so counter this by upgrading the lighting around your home.
Here’s how: First, natural light is good for your health (you know, vitamin D). And, it increases visibility around the house. So, if you don’t already – open those curtains!
Second, make sure there are plenty of lights and lamps throughout your home.
Third, get nightlights. If you’re up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, then you need a source of light that won’t irritate your sleepy eyes but will prevent you from tripping over your slippers.
Finally, make sure switches are easy to access. Consider using remote-controlled lighting and adding switches to all room entryways (whenever feasible, of course).
Considering fall prevention home modifications? Start here!
Consider hiring an aging-in-place specialist who can help you find contractors and other resources for home modifications. And, if you don’t already have one, get yourself an emergency call system of some sort (especially if you live alone). Many health insurances and other senior membership services offer discounts for certain safety devices!