We all want to give our parents the safest, happiest life as they age. This usually includes allowing them to continue living independently in their own homes. If you’ve been worried about your aging parent or grandparent’s safety in the home, you aren’t alone. The risk of a fall increases greatly as we age, in particular for those 65 and older.
According to Osha.gov, a “trip” occurs when the foot or lower leg hits an object while the upper body continues moving, resulting in a loss of balance and potentially a fall. It can also occur from stepping down to a lower surface and losing your balance.
We already know that one in three seniors falls each year, usually due to a slip or a trip. You and your aging loved ones don’t have to be included in that statistic. Here are some very common objects found in the home that cause trips:
Take a walk around the house and look for small or large rugs that have been wrinkled up and raised that are creating a tripping hazard. Decide whether the wrinkles can be fixed or if the rug should simply be replaced or thrown out.
Check for any open cabinets or drawers in bathrooms, kitchens, and offices. Especially with older hardware, drawers can open up by themselves easily. If you've got a drawer that constantly opens on it's own, look into replacing it or getting an accessory that secures the drawer so it's always closed unless you open it yourself.
As you walk carefully around the house, feel for any unexpected changes in elevation. Stairs in and out of the garage come in all shapes and sizes-make sure those are marked with bright tape or paint. Also, consider installing a hand rail or grab bar near the place where the level changes.
With all the components we use these days to simply watch TV, cables and cords are everywhere. Make sure that if you are using power strips or extension cords, that they are out of the way. Properly label and store these cables and cords behind your entertainment centers or TVs. Make sure lamp cords are out of walkways and that any electronics used in bathrooms are stored properly.
I know that this is a big one for me! Especially when I am doing laundry, it’s easy to not watch the ground below you and trip from the threshold in your doorway. Make sure thresholds are secured tightly and as flush to the floor as possible.
If your home or patio has bricks or tiles, be sure that they have been evenly grouted and that the walking surface is smooth. Replace loose or broken tiles as they can quickly become a tripping hazard.
We love our pets, that is a given. The problem is, they’ve got their own minds! Cats and dogs can get excited or scared and in seconds be right in front of your feet. Make sure that you listen for your pet, especially if you are carrying something and can’t see the ground. You could hurt not only yourself, but your pet too!
While ramps are there to provide a safer entry in and out of the home, for anyone who isn’t in a wheelchair, they can also be a safety hazard. If your home or your loved one’s home has ramps throughout it, make sure they are safely marked and flush with surfaces to make as even as a surface as possible.
Laundry, bags, purses, papers, any clutter or debris in the house that can end up on the floor can cause an unexpected trip to the hospital. To avoid this, keep clutter to a minimum, keep laundry in the basket until you’re ready to put it away or clean it, and keep papers organized and in folders. Ask guests to please use coat hangers for purses and coats rather than setting them on the floor or couches.
This is a huge one. Probably the most dangerous tripping hazard of them all. A standard bathtub in a bathroom is an extreme danger to an aging adult. As we age, our ability to safely stand on one leg as we lift the other out of the tub decreases. Adding water to the equation doesn’t help at all. Look into switching to a shower to avoid the need for lifting of the legs. There are also many senior-friendly bathtubs that have doors that open on the side and make it much safer to enter and exit the bathtub.