According to the National Institute of Health, around 60% of all falls happen at home. And falls can cause seriour injuries. So if you’re getting up in years (or if you’ll be providing elder care at home), it’s time to take steps to fall-proof your home. Here are some things you can do:
- Install handrails and grab bars. Add handrails to all staircases and grab bars to showers and around toilets. Once they’re installed, don’t forget to use them.
- Remove trip hazards. Move things out of pathways (e.g., electrical cords, phone cords, magazines, pet bowls). Also, remove or secure any rugs.
- Rearrange furniture. Leave yourself wide walking paths. Make sure there’s enough room for you to get through with a walker or wheelchair. Even if you’re not using those things now, you might need them later.
- Improve lighting. Eyesight tends to diminish some with age, so you’ll want to be sure your home is well lit, especially at night. Add night lights to hallways, bathrooms, and your kitchen. You’ll also want to keep a lamp by your bed. And a flashlight in case the power goes out.
- Avoid slippery surfaces. Wet floors are a definite fall risk, so if there’s water on the floor (e.g., from spills, leaks), clean it up right away. Also, Kansas City winters can be brutal. So if possible, pay someone to clean and put salt on snow-covered sidewalks, stairs, and your driveway.
- Install non-slip strips or mats. You can buy carpeted stair treads or non-slip strips for stairways at home improvement stores in Kansas City, Overland Park, or Independence. You’ll also want to pick up some mats for your bathtubs or showers.
- Make frequently-used items easy to reach. For example, move them to lower shelves so you don’t need a stepstool to get them.
- Stay active. Maintaining a strong body and good balance through regular exercise can help to prevent falls.
Falling can become a real threat as you age. But a few small steps can go a long way to keeping you safe.