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If you are like most seniors, you desire to retain your independence by residing in your own home as long as possible. One way to ensure you don’t end up having to move into an assisted living facility or in with family members is to reduce your risk of a household accident, like a fall, through applicable home additions and renovations.

Identify Problem Areas

Some areas in your home are more high risk than others when it comes to your likelihood of falling. It’s important to first identify these areas as high risk before making changes to improve them. The most high-risk areas are as follows:

  • Bathrooms: Bathrooms are hot bed areas for slips and falls. The National Institute on Aging estimates around 80% of all falls involving seniors, 65 years-of-age or older, happen in the bathroom.
  • Stairways: This makes sense as climbing and descending stairs can cause problems when it comes to falls.
  • Kitchens: Slippery or worn-down tiles, out-dated appliances, etc. can make kitchens a dangerous place.
  • Doorways: The threshold of a doorway can stick out, causing a trip hazard.

Home Additions, Enhancements and Renovations to Make Your Home Safer

  • Grab Bars, Rails, Anti-Slip Decals, Strips: Adding handrails or grab bars to stairs, bathrooms, hallways, kitchens, etc can reduce your risk of falling. Also, make sure you install non-skid decals and strips, anywhere your risk of slipping is high, such as bathrooms, kitchen floors, foyers and/or stairways.
  • Walk-in Tubs and Showers: When you renovate a bathroom and change a step-in tub to either a walk-in tub or shower, you automatically improve your safety in that room. After all, when you don’t have to step in and out of the tub, your risk of slipping should go down significantly. Thankfully, a walk-in tub with a bench still gives you the ability to take a bath, but without the risk of stepping into the tub.  As mentioned above, 80% of falls involving seniors 65+ happen in the bathroom so a walk-in tub could be the best way to prevent a fall.  If you’re considering one for your home you can get a free quote here.
  • Stair Lifts: Stairs can present a huge fall risk if you live in a multi-level or bi-level home. To stay in your home longer, consider installing a stair lift. This will ensure you get up and down your stairs safely.
  • Home Elevators: Another option for a home with stairs, especially one with more than two levels, is an elevator. This is also advantageous if you use a wheelchair or scooter to get around your home.
  • Update Fixtures: Fixtures, like doorknobs and light switches can be updated to make them easier to use, reach and grasp. Replacing round handles with level style ones or rocker switches for the original one is a good way to improve the functionality and overall safety of your home. You can also update lighting to ensure you can see well in dark areas, so you don’t trip over something you didn’t see.
  • Med Alert Systems: A good medical alert system may not prevent you from falling, but should it happen, having one could save your life.  After reviewing the home additions above consider adding a second layer of safety to your home with a medical alert system.  You can check them out here.

The Next Step

Once you have identified problem areas in your home where your risk of falling is high, you need to make the necessary renovations. You shouldn’t attempt any extensive renovations yourself, instead hire a professional with good reviews and references who is licensed and insured. Also, make sure you ask for a written estimate before you allow anyone to begin work in your home.

Use the information above to ensure your home is as safe as possible, giving your best chance of long-term independence.

 

Sources:
http://www.newsusa.com/articles/article/preventing-senior-falls-starts-in-the-bathroom.aspx
https://www.agingcare.com/articles/senior-friendly-home-additions-to-help-elderly-parents-age-in-place-165731.htm

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