Preparing your home for an aging adult, sometimes called senior proofing your home, typically involves making sure fall hazards are kept to a minimum and doors and rooms are accessible for someone who might have limited mobility.
If you have a parent moving in with you, you’re in for some big changes. Not only are the dynamics of your household about to change, but your parent may have safety needs you haven’t had to consider before. Preparing for these needs, while time consuming, will pay off in the long run for your family member’s safety.
Proofing Your Home Against Falls
Falls are one of the most common sources of injury for older adults.1 Preventing falls is possible, though, with a little work. Here are some common hazards to look out for.
- 1. Slippery Surfaces
- Clean up spills immediately after they occur.
- Consider getting a wet floor sign to put out after you mop.
- Make sure stairs are carpeted or are coated in a non-slip material.
- Ensure the bottom of tubs and showers are textured or invest in non-slip mats to put down.
- 2. Clutter in Walkways
- Avoid leaving anything lying around in walkways.
- Light all common areas well—don’t assume your parent can see things just because you can.
- Leave extra room around chairs and tables.
- Tuck cords along the wall and out of the way.
- 3. Uneven Stairs
- Make sure steps are flush and don’t have any lip or overhang.
- Check for any uneven areas or gaps.
- Periodically inspect the condition of staircases and steps, especially outdoors.
- Keep stairs free of clutter and debris.
- 4. Bunched Up Rugs and Carpets
- Make sure the edges and corners of your rugs and carpets sit flat.
- Invest in carpet tape for areas that stick up.
You’ll also want to make sure that the handrails on stairs and elsewhere throughout the home are sturdy and can bear the weight of your parents—you don’t want them giving out if someone needs to grab them during a fall.
Making Your Home Accessible
Stairs: Even if your parents can walk on their own, decreased mobility, eyesight, and reflexes coupled with conditions like arthritis can make stairs a real challenge. You’ll want to make sure that steps are short and handrails plentiful. It may even be a good idea to consider replacing short staircases with ramps if possible.
Doorknobs: Also consider changing the style of doorknob you use. Typical round knobs can be hard to grip and turn for someone with arthritis—like many of our parents. Door levers or handles might make a more accessible choice.
Baths and Showers: Walk-in showers and tubs with low rims can make life much easier for someone with mobility issues. There are also transfer benches and grab bars you can purchase to help with getting in and out of a tub if a full remodel isn’t an option.
Senior proofing your home isn’t impossible, and you’ll benefit from having a safer home as well.
Once you’ve taken care of the basics listed above, consider talking to your parent about a medical alert device so that they’ll have access to help in an emergency.
- National Council on Aging, “Falls Prevention Facts”