In addition to the bathroom and kitchen, stairs and steps can be notably dangerous places for those aged 65+. Whether located indoors or outdoors, finding ways to make stairways safer in your aging loved one’s home – or your home – will help ensure you avoid an unnecessary trip to the local hospital when least expected. Thankfully, creating stairs safer for seniors is possible by taking these five steps.
Why Are Seniors More Fall-Prone?
Each year, countless older Americans get hurt in stair-related accidents, resulting in hip fractures, contusions, and hospitalizations. Sadly, many elderly victims never fully recover from their injuries, while others lose their independence permanently as a result.
Some seniors are at higher risk for falling because of:
- Reduced bone density and muscle strength
- Vision changes
- Diminished balance and coordination
- Postural (orthostatic) hypotension
- Cognitive changes resulting from dementia or Alzheimer’s
How to Create Senior-Friendly Stairways
Even though stair climbing is a healthy form of exercise for most seniors, for others it can be a harrowing experience fraught with challenges and risks.
Here are five home modifications you can do to make stairs easier to negotiate for elderly loved ones:
A cluttered stairway is a fall waiting to happen. Keep the stairway free and clear of clutter by removing any potential obstacles, such as boxes, shoes, clothes, extension cords, or furniture. While you’re at it, be sure that any loose carpeting is secured or removed entirely.
You might think that making steps and stairs less slippery would involve a lot of money and time. However, there are many inexpensive and nonlabor-intensive ways to minimize your senior’s fall risk – starting with stair threads made from tape, rubber, or carpet. Available in different varieties, colors, and brands, another solution is using anti-slip floor paint.
For added peace of mind, consider placing fluorescent tape strips on the first and last step to heighten awareness, notably if your senior suffers from poor vision.
If your loved one is aging in place, they are more than likely living in an older home. Flights of stairs in older homes commonly lack adequate illumination. Based on your budget and decor, there are many economical ways to beef up the lighting above the staircases in an older home without compromising style.
Although it seems logical that steps and stairways in a senior’s home would have handrails, that’s not always the case. If your loved one’s home is “handrail-deficient,” spending a weekend afternoon installing some sturdy handrails on both sides of the stairs will help everyone sleep better at night. For exterior stairs, be sure to extend the rails beyond the last step.
While you’re at it, elevate your senior’s safety game even further by installing grab bars in their bathroom next to the toilet and inside the shower/tub area.
If your aging loved one’s muscle strength isn’t what it used to be, they may need a walker, wheelchair, or other mobility aid to get around. That said, another safety tip is to find them a stair assist device. Available in different styles and price points, examples of adaptive equipment include:
- Stair climbers
- Threshold ramps
- Walker stairs
- Half steps or blocks
- Grab bars or handrails
Another option is to install an accessibility ramp. Accessibility ramps, or wheelchair ramps, can replace stairs and provide safer access for those using a wheelchair, walker, or other mobility aid.
An Extended Family in Your Loved One’s Home
Trying to keep aging loved ones safe from a distance can be stressful. Senior1Care is your trusted partner in providing quality, compassionate home care services to seniors living in Elkhart, Dunlap, Jamestown, Nappanee, and Goshen, IN. Our experienced caregivers are trained to deliver professional, reliable care in the same respectful and friendly manner that they would treat their family members.
At Senior1Care, we understand that having a caregiver in your loved one’s home is a decision that requires trust. Our goal is to build relationships with clients by listening to their needs and providing the highest level of quality care possible. We are committed to helping your loved ones maintain their well-being, independence, and comfort. To learn more about our flexible caregiving options or schedule a FREE assessment for a senior in the greater Elkhart, IN, area, visit us by clicking here now.