Falls are a leading cause of injuries for older Americans, claiming 9,500 lives annually. A few simple home maintenance tips for seniors can reduce the risk of falls, make your home more accessible, and help you remain independent for longer.
Common Home Dangers
Age doesn’t have to mean less freedom, and it certainly doesn’t have to compromise the underlying personality and desires that make you who you are. Indeed, many seniors find that getting older offers a renewed sense of purpose and meaning. Yet the physical changes of age are undeniable, and can quickly sideline your retirement dreams. Some common home dangers include:
- Bathing: It’s easy to slip and fall in the shower and bath.
- Flooring and rugs: Loose decorative rugs, hard or damaged flooring, and cracked tiles can present tripping hazards.
- Cooking and cleaning: Cooking for yourself can be deeply rewarding, but it often means reaching for things, climbing ladders, and using dangerous appliances. The risk of falling or burning yourself is high. Likewise, many seniors find that dusting isn’t as easy as it used to be, and bending over to clean toilets hurts already aching joints.
- Doors and locks: Old locks may make it easier for people to access your home. Creaky, heavy doors can be difficult to close. Seniors who take their pets for walks or spend a fair amount of time outside may forget to close the door, or struggle to open a heavy door.
- Aging appliances: If you’ve lived in your home for many years, aging appliances can present a serious health threat — from leaking refrigerators to hot water heaters that suddenly blast you with frigid or scalding water.
Home Maintenance Tips
A relationship with a trustworthy home repair person can help you stay independent and relieved if something needs a repair in your home. Try asking loved ones or your local senior center for a referral. Try these tactics for staying safe:
- Be more organized. Tupperware bins and boxes are great storage solutions for small objects. Don’t let toys, books, or other debris stay on the floor, because they present tripping hazards.
- Outsource cleaning. Don’t spend retirement stooped over a toilet, and don’t sit in a house that’s full of allergens and dust. A cleaning person can help keep your home sparkling, and you’ll never again have to pick up a toilet brush.
- Make sure rugs and carpets are stable. Put adhesive, anti-stick backing on decorative area rugs.
- Repair broken floors and tiles.
- Put an anti-slip mat in your shower, and install a bar to help you get in and out of the shower.
- Ensure that your stairs have a sturdy, stable railing. Consider carpeting your steps.
- Get an annual appliance inspection, especially if your appliances are old.
- Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Install new locks on your doors. If you have pets who try to sneak out the door, try installing screen doors or putting gates near the doors.
- If you use baby gates to contain pets or grandkids, select gates that have doors and latches so that you don’t have to climb over them.
- Consider installing a home security system that has a panic button you can use to get help if you fall or suffer another injury.
- Stabilize furniture by securing it to the wall. If you fall and reach for a dresser or cabinet, this ensures that it won’t come down on top of you.
The Benefits of Independent Living
Some seniors, particularly those on limited or fixed incomes, often feel overwhelmed by the many upgrades their home can require. Many others find that the hopes they had for living at home don’t pan out. It’s hard to make plans with friends, find something to do every day, and get transportation to local events. Independent living offers a great alternative.
The right independent living community surrounds you with welcoming neighbors and a deep sense of community. You’ll have access to a wide range of activities, classes, special events, and community excursions. You won’t have to worry about home maintenance or falls, since your home will be flawlessly designed to keep you safe and comfortable. You’ll also always have help when you need it.