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01 May 2012

Five Ways to make your elderly relative’s home safer

Everyone knows accidents happen The good news is that preventative measures and simple adjustments will substantially reduce the risk and improve the safety around the home. Here are five simple DIY adjustments you can do to reduce the risk of a fall.

Everyone knows accidents happen. Although, many people don’t know that a fall may have tragic consequences for people aged over 65. Injury from falls can range from bruises and sprains to dislocations and broken bones. Even minor stumbles that don’t result in serious injury, can still impact a person’s confidence in themselves to remain independent at home.

Don’t assume it won’t happen to your parent. Every year, thousands of elderly people are hospitalised as a result of a fall. The World Health Organisation reported around one in three people over 65 years fall each year worldwide.

The good news is that preventative measures and simple adjustments will substantially reduce the risk and improve the safety around the home.

Here are five simple DIY adjustments you can do to reduce the risk of a fall:

1.       Declutter and remove trip hazards: The first step in preventing falls at home is to create more room to move and less obstacles to navigate. Remove any clutter and ensure hallways and living spaces have clear access. Every home has potential risks and hazards that can be simply removed or repaired. Items such as old wobbly furniture, electrical cables and loose floor rugs should be repaired, removed, or fixed securely. Ensure external sliding doors can be easily opened with no trip hazards in the form of small steps or raised sliding tracks.
 
2.       Avoid climbing ladders or excessive stairs: Your parent’s home may have an abundance of overhead cupboards, but it doesn’t mean they should all be used. Climbing up to access items stored in high cupboards is a disaster waiting to happen.  Move items down to an easy-to-reach level. Take away ladders and volunteer to help your relative change light globes, smoke alarm batteries and even put up Christmas decorations so they never need to climb a ladder or chair. If the house has a steep driveway or lots of stairs, replace stairs with ramps or install chairlifts. If modifications are not practical, it might be wise to look at moving to a single-level access home. 
 
3.       Solve Slippery Issues: Tiled floors and paved areas can become extremely dangerous when wet. To prevent falls on slick surfaces like bathrooms and kitchens, use non-slip mats. Always wear shoes with a supportive fit and good grip. Don’t trade safety for comfort. Socks or loose slippers present a slipping risk.
 
4.       Grab bars, handrails and mobility frames: Safety devices are an excellent solution around the home, especially in bathrooms, bedrooms and stairs where falls often occur. Bathroom handrails will ensure your relative can get on and off the toilet and or shower safely. A support such as a mobility frame or walking stick provides extra stability when standing up, sitting down and getting in and out of bed.

5.  Call on helping hands – Even if your loved one has a beautiful garden and a very green thumb, you can still hire a gardener to mow the lawns once in a while.  In fact, there are lots of jobs that you could offer to help with or hire a qualified tradesperson to attend to – painting, window cleaning, cleaning gutters and pruning hedges, just to name a few. If there is a bathtub that needs cleaning, this could present a deadly combination of bending awkwardly in a slippery area – so get a cleaner to do the bathrooms and floors.

If you’d like more tips about home safety, visit:
http://www.activeandhealthy.nsw.gov.au/your-active-and-healthy-guide/home-safety-checklist/