By Eric Woolf
Through my work with a senior home care agency, I have become more aware of the struggles our elders have. All too often, I hear of our elders fallen down, breaking a bone, or sometimes a much more severe accident will happen. So I think it’s important to focus attention on safety in our later years in life to prevent a serious injury from happening in the place we live most of our life- our house.
I wanted to discuss some of the things that you can do to improve the safety of your home and list some products that can help. There is also a growing trend of companies starting up that will senior proof your home, but most of the tasks can be done fairly easy for the “Do It Yourselfer” which will also save a lot of money. Senior proof type companies are growing every year because we have been becoming more independent and healthier at older ages with the latest healthcare.
The bullet points below list the items that I recommend a house should have to prevent serious accidents.
- Bathtub Non-Slip Pad- There are many types of non-slip pads available that you can place at the bottom of a bathtub. These are very inexpensive and prevent you from slipping while bathing. Some are made of adhesive backed strips which adhere to the surface of the tub and others are a simple rubber mat that lay down on the floor. A mat can be more beneficial if a person does fall because it is typically soft which can absorb some of the impact they might have.
- Grab Rails- You can add grab rails to any area of the house such as around steps to help get up or to the bathroom area to assist getting in & out of the bathtub. These railings are simply a tube shaped handle that can be mounted to a wall. There are a few types sold in the marketplace with some using a suction cup and others require screws to secure the unit onto the wall.
- Safety Step Up Stools- Reaching places that are either high up or hard to get to can be a very dangerous. A recent family member of mine actually had this problem. She used a chair to step up to a cabinet and fell down, which turned out to be a serious accident. The safety stools that I recommend are the ones that have a side railing.
- Reachers- In addition to the safety stools, you can also use devices called reachers to prevent falls from high up places. These are clamp type items made with an extended bar which will grab most items from high shelves and cabinets.
Those are just some of the products that I recommend for seniors and people of all ages. There are other safety devices that you can use for the disabled or for people living in their eldest years by adding the following:
- Ramps can be put over steps for easier accessibility.
- Lift chairs can be used to assist a senior up.
- Electric stair lifts for people living in 2 story houses or requiring the use of a basement.
I hope these suggestions help keep you or your loved ones safe at home. If you have any other suggestions, please feel free to add to the list in the comments below.
Eric Woolf is a senior home care professional in Cincinnati, Ohio. He currently assists the administrator at Family Bridges Home Care .