Be proactive. Don’t wait until a slip or fall to take a good look at your living quarters. Every home — yours or theirs — where a senior spends a great deal of time must be adapted for comfort and safety.
Light up living spaces
- Light rooms, hallways, entrances, walkways and (especially) stairways well.
- Install night lights in bedrooms, bathrooms and hallways.
- Have a lamp within easy reach of the bed.
- Replace traditional light switches with glow-in-the-dark models.
- Use light bulbs at the highest wattage recommended for the fixture.
- Keep flashlights in any room where people spend time after dark.
- Use task lighting for cooking, crafts or reading.
Remove or secure anything that could cause a stumble or a slip
- Tack or tape area rugs and loose carpets to the floor, or remove them entirely.
- Watch for small furniture, pet bowls, electrical or phone cords and other clutter that might cause a fall.
- Arrange furniture to provide plenty of walking space. Remove items from stairs, hallways and pathways.
- Put non-slip strips or a rubber mat on the floor of your bathtub or shower.
- Get into a tub or shower with your weaker leg first. Get out strong side first.
- Wear low-heeled, comfortable shoes that fit well and give your feet good support.
- When you're carrying something, be sure you can see where you are stepping.
Install ramps, bars and railings
- Install railings strong enough to support a person's full body weight on both sides of staircases. Railings should extend beyond the top and bottom steps and along walkways.
- Place grab bars in tubs and showers, and next to the toilet, to help you get in and out and up and down.
- Place non-skid mats inside and outside your shower or tub and near the toilet and sinks. Use shower chairs, bath benches and high toilets.
- Avoid stairs if possible. If steps are necessary, they should be deep and flat for easy balance. But it’s best to keep everything on one level.
- Use taller chairs when possible. Higher seating makes it easier to get up and down.
- Put rubber tips on walkers, canes or crutches.
Organize your living spaces
- A well-designed kitchen will have everything within reach. Shorten the distances between utilities and appliances and reduce the effort involved in food preparation.
- Make it easy to reach the things used most often. Use a reaching device to access higher shelves.
- Use easily turned levers rather than knobs on faucets.
- Kitchen cabinets should be low, with sliding doors that require less manual dexterity.
- Leave plenty of room for food preparation.
Doors, phones and emergencies
- Install doorbells and telephones with long, low-pitched rings.
- Use a telephone with large, easily read numbers.
- Make sure fire-escape routes are unobstructed and well lit.
- Make sure the home has a carbon monoxide detector.
- Make sure there is a smoke detector on every floor and outside every bedroom.
- If someone is apt to wander, consider installing a door chime or alarm.