Making some simple home modifications can ensure your safety and independence, and even better, these modifications can often be no-cost or low-cost. Injuries from falls are one of the leading causes of nursing home admissions, and making these changes can help prevent injuries from falls or other accidents, which is an important step in avoiding the nursing home.
Home modifications can be as simple as adding additional lighting in hallways and stairs, replacing knobs with levers on doors and faucets, or adding handrails on stairways.
Here are more than 20 tips for making your home safer and more functional. Some of these are easy to implement right away, while others may take some planning.
But before we get into the tips, walk around your home and ask yourself the following questions:
- Are all exterior doors well-lit with motion- or light-sensitive fixtures?
- Are there items by the entrance and exit that may cause me or others to trip or fall?
- Are there certain levels in the house that might be difficult for someone to access if he has mobility problems?
- Does my home have smooth surfaces throughout, or will flooring need to be changed or modified to improve mobility and ensure safety?
- Are there features of the bedroom or bathroom that limit my ability to take care of myself?
- Will the doors need to be widened to accommodate a mobility aid such as a wheelchair or walker?
- Do I have working and up-to-date smoke detectors and fire extinguishers?
Tips for Enhancing Entrances and Exits of the Home
- Use bright lighting at entry of the home
- Repair any cracks or uneven surfaces on the walkway
- Keep bushes and shrubs trimmed to provide an uncluttered walk and clear view from doors and windows
- Trim low-hanging branches along walkways
- Install a peephole in exterior doors
- Install stair rails on both sides of the stairs
- Replace door knobs with lever handles
- Make sure thresholds are level without strips that require a step over
- Place a table or bench by the door to place packages on when opening the door
Tips for Improving Movement and Safety Throughout the Home
- Create clear pathways between rooms by removing piles from floors and arranging furniture so it is easy to walk around
- Remove area rugs or secure area rug edges with double-sided tape or non-skid pads
- Use chairs with armrests
- Apply color contrasting tape on stair edges
- Never use an extension cord that is cut, damaged or repaired
- Do not run any electrical cords under a rug or carpet. This can cause someone to trip; if the cord becomes too hot, a fire could start.
- When replacing a light bulb in a lamp or ceiling fixture, make sure the replacement bulb is of equal or lesser wattage than recommended by the lamp or fixture manufacturer.
- Use a wireless phone system and keep handsets near bed, bathroom and kitchen
- Install flashing light or sound amplifier to indicate ringing doorbell if you have visual or hearing impairment
- Install lights inside closets
- Install adjustable closet rods and shelves
Tips for Increasing Safety in the Bathroom
- Place space heaters, radios and hair dryers away from bathtubs and sinks
- Keep medications organized in labeled pill boxes
- Make sure you have ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets installed
- Use nonslip mats in the bathtub and shower
- Check the water temperature for possible burn hazard
Having a safe, easily accessible home not only helps ensure your health and independence, it can give you and your family peace of mind. The tips above can be a good starting point for making simple adjustments to your environment.