Do a Home Safety Checkup to Reduce Trips and Slips
Contrary to popular belief, falls are not a normal part of aging. However, many older adults do fall as they age because of preventable trips and slips in the home. In this article, we’ll look at some of the most common slip and trip hazards in your home and share strategies for addressing them to reduce your fall risk.
Identify Slip and Trip Hazards in Your Home
The first step in identifying fall hazards in your home is simply to walk through each room carefully to seek them out. This easy step is often overlooked during day-to-day life. As you walk through your home, think about the paths you take during the day and at night. Are the paths clear? Is there anything that you might bump or that could cause you to trip?
Common Safety Hazards
Some of the most common safety hazards in a typical home are:
1. Electrical and Telephone Cords
Be sure that all electrical or phone cords are out of your pathways. Coil loose cords or tape them down so they can’t catch on your foot. Keep your phone within reach and, if possible, carry a cordless or cell phone with you.
If you get up to answer a ringing phone, take your time. Rising suddenly can make you dizzy. In case you do fall, do you have a phone located near the ground so you could reach it to call for help if you can’t get up?
2. Rugs, Floors, and Slippery Surfaces
Rugs that are not securely attached to the floor can catch on your foot and make you trip. It’s best to remove any rugs that are not securely attached to the floor from your home. If you prefer to have a mat by the sink or stove, make sure it is a non-slip surface. Be sure it doesn’t have turned corners or edges that could make you trip.
Wet or slippery surfaces create another significant fall risk for older adults. If you spill a liquid on the floor, clean it up right away. If you have floor tiles in your home, they should have texture so they are not slick when you’re wearing socks.
3. Steps or Stairs
Do you have handrails on all steps or stairs inside your home and on the exterior? A rail on both sides helps with balance.
Ensure the stairway is lighted, with a switch at the top and bottom. You should also fix uneven, loose, or broken steps. Outdoor wooden steps can rot or weaken and may need to be replaced.
Look for any spots in your home where the carpet is loose or torn. If you find any, repair or replace the carpet in that room.
Installing grab bars is one of the best things you can do to reduce your slip and trip risk in the bathroom. You should also use non-slip floor mats around the tub.
Do you have trouble standing or get dizzy in the shower? If so, consider a shower seat. This also helps reduce bending to wash feet or shave legs. Adjustable-height or hand-held showerheads may also be helpful.
Do you have trouble getting on or off the toilet? A toilet seat riser with handrails may help. If you must get up several times at night to use the restroom, consider a bedside commode or urinal. It’s also helpful to make sure you have a nightlight in your bedroom so you can see your path to the restroom.
5. Poor Lighting
Low or inadequate light increases your risk of falling because you can’t see obstructions in your path. Keep a lamp close to your bed so it is easy to reach. Use night lights in your bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and hallways.
6. Reaching and Stretching
Stretching to reach items can cause you to lose your balance and slip. Keep the items you use most, like plates and glasses, on shelves about chest or waist-high. This helps you avoid bending or reaching for them.
Avoid using step stools or chairs to reach items on high shelves. If you must use a step stool, use one with a raised bar to hold. Never use a chair as a step stool.
Can Home Health Help Reduce Your Slip and Trip Risk?
A Path of Care agencies offer home safety assessments when beginning care. Our staff will help you identify fall risks and recommend changes for a safer home. They can also help with medical needs and strengthening muscles to increase your safety while doing your daily activities.
Home health services are covered by original Medicare and some other insurance plans with no out-of-pocket expense. To find out more information about how home health can help you live safely and independently in your own home, please send us a message or call us at (844) 301-4705.