Shaina Toomey, MSPT, Director of Rehabilitation Services, Fresh River Healthcare Center
(appeared in the Windsor Locks Journal, Windsor Journal and Bloomfield Messenger)
Caring for an “aging” loved one is an important and at times difficult task. As folks get older they have the desire to stay in their homes as long as they are able to. Helping to improve safety and reduce the risk of potential injuries due to falls can be made by making some home adaptation to help set everyone’s mind at ease. This also will help maintain your elderly loved ones independence. There are many companies out there that can help transition a home for elders such a walk in showers, chair lifts for stairs and other big ticket items. There are also some smaller scale things to address to help make immediate changes.
Here are some suggestions on how to improve safety:
- Good footwear – we always talk about footwear out of the home but inside the home is important too. If you prefer not to have shoes on in the house you can wear a good pair of sturdy slippers with a nonskid bottom.
- Throw rugs/area rug – these can be a big tripping hazard particularly in the bathroom so I suggest removing them or securing them down.
- Keeping items in reach – move items that are used on a daily basis within reach to avoid stretching, stooping or having to use a step-stool,
- Bathroom safety – the use of grab bars in the tub, an anti-slip mat or even the use of a tub chair is good for slippery tubs.
- Stair rails – if you have stairs an no rail this is a good time to think about getting a rail installed and use it.
- Lighting – the use of night lights in strategic places to light the walkway for evenings can be very useful.
- Clutter – assure to keep clutter and other object that impede the walkway out of the way. Phone cords, oxygen cords, pets toys/bowls, and other items.
Lastly, always remember to stay active and strong! Even if its just a daily walk or some simple exercises in the chair keeping mobile, agile and strong is key. Weakness in your legs is a big attributing factor to increased risk of falls.