Slips Trips & Falls: Making Your Home Environment Safe As You Age
Falls are common, but there are a lot of things that you can do to reduce the frequency of falls and to make your home environment safe for family members. You may want to make changes to your home now so it is safe as you get older, or make the environment safer for family members in your home. Here are my tips and tricks to preventing falls and things to think about when buying a house.
As we get older, our night vision and other senses are not as sharp as when we were younger. Nightlights, especially the ones that turn on automatically, can help us navigate the home at night without tripping.
When I say steps, that is anything between one and a full flight of stairs. Just one step can be troublesome for someone who has difficulty with mobility and balance. Sometimes the one to three steps leading into the house do not have a handrail. Make sure that stairs have a handrail or grab bar to assist with mobility.
Many home bathrooms are not large enough to accommodate a walker or wheelchair. If you are looking to buy a house, you can make sure the bathrooms can accommodate a walker or wheelchair by measuring it and comparing it to the recommendations on the ADA website. While this list is written for public facilities, it can be helpful to determine how accessible your home is. Install grab bars by the toilet and shower, and use a chair in the shower to prevent falls.
Tile floors are very slippery when wet. And wood floors can also be slippery with dry bare feet. Some people have neuropathy (numbness & tingling due to nerve damage) in their feet, which can also alter their perception of the environment.
Make sure your family wears non-slip socks or rubber-soled footwear in the house. Used a shower mat over the tile floor and in the shower to prevent falls.
Keep the floor neat and tidy and free from any objects that someone can trip over. Mobility devices, like a walker, cane, or wheelchair, require wider passageways for safe navigation.
Alcohol & Medications:
Our kidneys and liver remove waste from our body, such as alcohol and medications. Because our kidney and liver do not work as well when we are older, we may not be able to tolerate the same amount of alcohol as when we are young. Alcohol also interacts with many medications which may increase the effects of alcohol leading to falls. Some medications can also put you at risk for falls. Talk to your healthcare provider if you are concerned about your medication.
*This article is intended for general information purposes only and is not medical advice. Please seek counseling from your primary care provider for personalized medical advice.