Every year, 25 percent of U.S. adults over the age of 64 fall. Three million of those who fall end up in an emergency room and 800,000 have to be hospitalized due to serious injuries. What can you do to keep your parents from falling? Invest time and money in making these home improvements that increase safety.
The bathroom is one area where falls are likely to happen. Wet floors and hard surfaces heighten the risk of a dangerous fall. Install grab bars near the toilet and both inside and outside of the bathtub/shower combination or shower stall.
If the bathroom is small and crowded, there are grab bars that have a lower bar for towels. You can install this combination grab bar and not have to find room for towel racks, too.
The final thing to consider is less slippery flooring. Vinyl flooring that looks like wood offers more traction when wet than tile or linoleum flooring does. Don’t use bath mats unless they have a rubber backing to prevent movement.
The bedroom won’t need much for improvement, but there are still things to do. Arrange furniture so that nothing is blocking the path to the door to the hallway and/or bathroom. If your parent struggles to get out of bed in the morning, add an adjustable bed rail.
Anywhere your parents enter the house, make it safer. Lighting on stairs needs to be bright and illuminate all areas of the stairs and landing. Railings need to be secured to studs and not just the drywall or wood paneling. Railings need to travel the full length of the stairs.
Place a step stool in a pantry or accessible area. That step stool should have handles to hold while climbing the steps and standing at the top. If your parent has to reach something on a higher shelf, the step stool must be used. They shouldn’t try to climb onto the counter or use a dining room chair.
Move items they use often, such as a food processor, to a lower shelf or leave it on the counter if there’s room. Add anti-fatigue mats in front of the stove and sink.
Living Room Improvements
Just like you did in the bedroom, arrange furniture so that nothing is in the path of commonly accessed areas like the bathroom or kitchen. Make sure lighting is bright. Have a cane available if your mom or dad has a hard time standing up from the sofa or chair.
As mobility changes, it’s important to consider home care services. If your parent has fallen once, caregivers can help with ambulation, exercises, meal preparation, and more during the recovery.
Your mom and dad may discover they enjoy having caregivers around. It’s a good way to gain companionship, have someone else to run errands, and drive them to stores and medical offices. Call a home care agency to discuss caregivers and pricing.