Recent studies have shown that at least 30 percent of adults age 65 and over suffer or incur serious injury from a fall each year. This number increases to 50 percent in adults 80 years old or above.
With the likelihood of falling being so great for those in their golden years, it becomes important to keep them safe. One way to do this is to create home interiors, structural designs, and pathways that can help in mitigating falls.
In your golden years, being able to stay in the home you worked so hard for your entire life is often expected. In some cases, an elderly person may have to be placed in assisted living. While this care is common, you also run the risk for neglect and isolation. In fact, there are numerous lawsuits for mistakes with medication, abuse, and the like centered around nursing facilities.
So, instead of placing a loved one or elderly relative into assisted care, the following will detail a few home designs that can help keep your elderly loved ones safe.
One key feature that can be incorporated into every area inside and outside of your home is railings. Just like the railing that we all hold onto when ascending a staircase, these railings offer support for those who have issues with balance and gait.
Railings can be added into your corridors and to areas heavily traveled. Such areas might include hallways, the kitchen, interior walls, staircases, porches, and sidewalks.
Railings should also be ergonomically designed so that it’s easier for an elderly individual to grab ahold of the railing. You’ll want to keep in mind that many of the elderly have developed arthritic conditions, so installing a thick, ornate handle or railing might not be a viable solution.
Believe it or not, slips and falls can happen on carpeted surfaces just as easily as tile or wood floors. In fact, some carpets are thick and can cause one to trip over their own footing.
In order to make your elderly relative or loved one’s home easy to move around in and slip-free, you’ll want to add areas with a high adhesive coefficient around corners and along pathways that are heavily traveled.
Some materials that you can use are grip-rubber, linoleum, and wood flooring with a coarse grain. Anything that reduces the slipping potential is ideal for flooring. When considering carpet, avoid fluffy, shag carpets as these fibers are longer and can snag a person’s foot or footwear and cause one to trip and fall.
Hallways and Doors
As we age, many of us will begin to move much slower, and our gait will become much wider. In addition, some elderly individuals will need the assistance of a walker, cane, or wheelchair due to balance issues or decreased muscle strength.
If you’ve ever seen a wheelchair or a walker, you’ll know that these devices take up a good bit of space, and you need more room to manipulate them if you want to turn around.
Making hallways a foot or so wider will enable your elderly relative or loved one to maneuver with ease through your hallways. Additionally, making doorways and doors slightly wider than a standard door will also allow for better ease of entry.
Staircases are perhaps the most dangerous when it comes to home design. This is true for children, adults, and, of course, for the elderly. A straight staircase offers no mid-point or platform that could otherwise break a fall if you lose your balance when ascending or descending.
Creating an L-shaped staircase design that offers a 90-degree turn at some point will require a section or platform that can be thought of as a safety feature. This feature will break a person’s fall if tumbling down the stairs. U-shaped or Winding stairs also have this ability.
In addition to a safe staircase, ensure that you have railings on both sides so that anyone can ascend or descend the stairs with confidence.