Rich and Anne are looking for some inexpensive ideas to make their home safer for themselves. Both are seniors with minor problems due to aging but they want to take some precautions early so that, should something happen, they are prepared. They read on the CDC website some startling statistics like the fact that one third of adults over age 65 suffer a fall each year and thirty percent of them suffer injuries such as hip fractures or head traumas. Most startling was the statistic stating that seniors who are 75 years & older who fall are four to five times more likely to be admitted to a long-term care facility for a year or longer. Additionally, two-thirds of all falls occur in or around the home. That was enough for Rich and Anne to start preparing their home for their safe aging in place. Following are some ideas for some adaptations to help prevent falls in their home:
• Install flooring that is slip resistant both when the floor is dry AND wet, if the funds are not available to replace flooring, consider adding a walk-off carpet designed for wet areas.
• Make sure floor surfaces are smooth but do not create a glare and that are slip-resistant. Anne and Rich should make sure they do not place any throw rugs or area rugs that don’t have a good slip-resistance backing.
• Anne and Rich should install faucets that have fins for handles throughout the home. It makes it easier to turn and off even with arthritis. They should also make sure the temperature of the hot water tank is not set too high so that they don’t get burned or scalded.
• Have electrical outlets upgraded and make sure they are GFCI rated for safety. Try to prevent using extension cords to plug assorted appliances into the outlets. (Anne loves her electrical appliances and has many items she likes to plug in). Have an electrician install more electrical outlets and make sure the breaker is rated high enough to carry the needed requirements.
• Increase wattage of light bulbs for better clarity but do not cause a glare. Anne and Rich can reduce glare by using frosted bulbs, indirect lighting, shades or globes on light fixtures.
• Another thing Anne and Rich should do is make sure the lighting has more than one light bulb so that if one burns out, there is still some light.
• Anne and Rich will want to install a night light in the bathroom, hallways and possibly the kitchen to help prevent night falls. A night light that has a sensor that will turn off when the light is turned on is a good choice too. Anne and Rich are concerned with their power usage and try to keep lights off as much as possible so the night light is a good compromise.
• Make sure towels and dishcloths are located at a comfortable height easily without assistance or lots of reaching. Rich and Anne are of average height but have some slight arthritis so placing these items in an easy to reach location is a smart move. Consider a location near a sink and far from the stove top in the kitchen. Fires can easily start if a towel gets near a burner.
• Doors should be wide enough for a walker to get through without having to turn it sideways. This means the doors should have at least a 32” clear opening. Installing door handles that are lever style are much easier to use than a round door knob.
• The threshold between rooms should be less than ¼” difference in height from the floor surfaces. This will help prevent possible trip hazards.
Anne and Rich are on their way to a safer home for themselves. They are encouraged to contact a CAPS for a more detailed evaluation of their home but any move they make to improve their safety and comfort is a step in the right direction.