Making Our House Safer: For Aging Parents and For Ourselves
My husband and I keep hearing about people who fall inside their homes, some of them older seniors and some in our age range (50′s – 60′s). Most people trip over an area rug or lose their
balance in the bathroom or on steps. Check out this online PowerPoint lecture at the University of Pittsburgh Supercourse site. Titled Fear of Falling Among Seniors: Needs Assessment and Intervention Strategies, the lecture provides an overview and potential solutions.
In her New York Times Well Blog Tara Parker-Pope addresses is issue of falling and introduces an article by Leslie Alderman, Making Home a Safer Place, Affordably, highlighting the subject and describing what should be accomplished to make a home safer for a senior relative.
With senior parents in and out of our house we thought about in-home safety accommodations for years, but we finally did something about it. While initially we thought about fixing up our house to make it safer for our senior parents, we realized it was also for us.
Accommodations Made at Our House
In 2007 and 2008 we completed the following installations and modifications at our house:
- two grab bars in each bathroom inside the tub shower and just outside (so a person can climb out and hold on if necessary).
- a grab bar in the powder room next to the toilet (because the room is very small and it is easy to bump into the sink).
- an extra wooden hand railing just inside the side door, so a person can hold on after entering and stepping up and preparing to turn.
- an extra railing at the top of the stairway, so that a person has a place to hold on where there had been none.
- two high quality, mildew resistant shower mats. These mats have suction cups to prevent sliding. We put them down each time we shower, and hang them up to dry afterwards.
- several high quality rug pads to ensure that area rugs stay in one place.
We are pleased with our changes and extra pleased that our senior parents have experienced few difficulties moving around the house safely. We also feel more secure in showers, bathtubs, and on stairways. This Mayo Clinic site tells even more about preventing falls.
Falls cause havoc in people’s lives – at the very least couple of days of stiffness. In the past various people I know have experienced weeks of muscle aches or minor injuries or chronic pain that lasts for months — all after falling. We also know that a fall can start a cascade of physical problems that led to the death of one of our senior parents.