Ways To Fall-Proof Your Home

What is the leading cause of death due to injury among adults age 65 and older? If you guessed falls, you would be correct. In addition to broken hip bones, anything from head injuries to nasty cuts and bruises can be lurking around the next innocent looking corner. Aside from the physical trauma, a fall can erode our confidence in performing normally every day

How, then, can you fall-proof your home ? Well, there are no absolutes, of course; accidents do happen. But there are some common sense solutions to make your home and the home of your aging parents and relatives a lot safer.

Floors: Whether they're hardwood, tile or covered with carpeting they pose one of the bigger hazards in our homes. If they're hardwood, make sure you use a non-slip wax when cleaning. If they're tile and you spill anything make sure you carefully mop up the liquid right away. Carpeting is probably the most fall-resistant floor covering. But if you do have hardwood floors or tile-covered floors and you'd like an area rug, make certain you pick a skid-proof rug. Marine carpeting is great for this, but the colors and styles are limited. So, whatever rug you choose make liberal use of double sided tape to keep it firmly anchored.

Uneven floor surfaces: This can be another tripping hazard. Have someone lay down a strip of sturdy material that can be purchased at a home improvement store that will bring both surfaces in alignment with each other.

Grab bars: These can be purchased at a home improvement store and can easily be installed by yourself or a handyman. Have them placed anywhere you might need extra help in getting up; in the bathroom next to the commode, on the wall next to the tub or shower and even in the tub/shower enclosure. Pharmacies and medical supply-stores also sell a booster seat for the commode to make it easier to get up.Bathroom: In addition to the grab bars, a nonskid seat in the tub/shower enclosure will help prevent falls and make bathing much easier.Clutter: It not only looks messy and adds to our stress but it's another tripping hazard. Make sure to have a place for everything and everything in its place.Cords and wires: Make sure all cords and wires are secured and are not placed in any areas where you walk.Furnishings: Avoid anything with sharp edges or a lot of glass. Pretty to look at when intact but not so pretty if you fall into it and it shatters.Stepstools: Try to keep your dishes or household cleaners and so forth at an easy to reach level. But if you must reach for an item higher up on a shelf use only a securely placed stepstool with side rails.Lighting: Even though you know the location of everything in your home, make sure your lighting is bright, so that you don't overlook some forgotten tripping hazard. Remote switches are especially good. You can keep the remote next to your bed and just flip the switch and it turns the light on in your bathroom or hallway before you get out of bed.
Shoes: Safety is more important than style when you're concerned about falling. Low heels and nonskid shoes are critical. But if you can get them in a nice style also then you can be safe and a fashionista!Pets: A dangerous tripping hazard wrapped in a beautiful ball of fur. And while that ball of fur can be snoozing quite contentedly one minute, the next thing you know little Fluffy is darting in front of you and coming to a screeching halt right in front of your feet. Diabolical? No, well, maybe. But those lovable companions can definitely be a potential tripping hazard. Love them but keep an eye on them.And don't forget the emergency alert systems that you can purchase and wear around your neck. Or you can give them to your older relatives. They do work and can be a tremendous source of comfort not only to you but also to your loved ones, knowing that if you do fall and can't get up, your designated emergency contact will be called.Sheryl Letzgus McGinnis writes frequently for ThirdAge.com
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