Falls are one of the leading reasons seniors end up in the hospital. Broken hips and closed head injuries can be fatal. At a minimum, these injuries involve extended periods of physical and occupational rehabilitation.
Seniors don’t necessarily volunteer that they use a chair to stand on to change a light bulb, or that they no longer feel steady going up and down the stairs. The holidays are a perfect time to make a safety assessment of your parent’s house. Pay attention to how well your parents navigate within the house.
1. Do they need a hand to help them stand up from a chair?
2. Do they now tetter from side-to-side as they walk?
3. Do they shuffle their feet when walking?
4. Do they struggle to lift their feet to step up onto a higher surface?
5. Do they seem to have balance issues?
If you answer yes to any one of these questions, there is trouble ahead.
The nature of surfaces that your parents have to negotiate is something to take note of. Families report that rugs without a rubber pad underneath and thick pile carpeting on stairs are consistent hazards. Obviously, stairs are dangerous for a parent who is unsteady on their feet or have balance issues. Strategically placed grab bars at transition points can make all the difference.
Your parents probably stand on chairs to reach things all over the house. Sometimes the chosen chair has wheels. One way to nip this stuff in the bud is to buy them a light weight three step stool that has a grab bar at the top. One for each floor of the house provides extra insurance.
Finally, survey the most used entryway to and from the outside. Increase the lighting. Eliminate all uneven surfaces. Repair the stairs and railings if needed. Maybe the original design just isn’t safe for a senior. If so, encourage your parents to spend the money to put in a safer entryway.
A Google search will show you many options for equipment to make a home more accessible, for example: https://www.101mobility.com/blog/2019/april/10-ways-to-make-a-handicap-accessible-home/