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Fall-Proofing Your Home - 6 Simple Steps

By
Real Estate Broker/Owner with Wendy Smith Real Estate

One of the biggest concerns as we age is falling.   Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.  We have to face it: the older we get, the higher the incidence of falls.  Some of the clients I’ve met as a hospice volunteer are folks who, before their fall, were active, still driving and living independently.

You've probably heard the phrase Aging-in-Place, aging in place is also referred to as Universal Design as many of the modifications made to a home have nothing to do with age, more about safety and mobility.   

Sometimes all it takes is one fall.  According to statistics, for those living independently before a hip fracture, 15 to 25 percent will still be in long-term care institutions a year after their fracture.   

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.   

Check these 6 critical areas:  

1.     Thresholds & Flooring - Make sure throw rugs are tacked down, wrinkling carpet should be re-stretched.  Get rid of any extension cords that do not run along the baseboard – eliminate any extension cords that cross doorways or halls!  Threshold ramps are available in assorted designs and colors to match flooring and readily available under $100.   

2.     Illumination - Lighting requirements increase with age. An 85- year-old requires three times more light than a 15-year-old to see the same thing.   Use night-lights.  I read that a high percentage of falls happened between the bedroom and bathroom…not enough light.  

Motion detectors and devices such as The Clapper make it easy to turn on lights when wall switches are not within easy reach.   

3.     Bathrooms are potentially one of the most dangerous rooms in the house for seniors.  By simply installing a higher profile toilet and grab bars, risk is significantly reduced.  

stylish grab bars for bathroom

Replace towel bars with attractive, modern grab bars.  Standard towel bars are not designed to hold weight – they won’t do much good if you reach out to stop a fall.  

Consider a bathroom upgrade to include a walk-in shower –
bathroom upgrades help to increase the value of the home.  
 

4.     Avoid clutter. Remove any furniture that is not needed. All remaining furniture should be stable and without sharp corners, to minimize the effects of a fall.  Keep coffee tables, footstools and low-lying furniture out of the walkways.   

5.     Kitchens – Keep commonly used items within easy reach to minimize the need to stoop low or reach high.  A grabber or reacher with a long handle & rubber grips will help with some out-of-reach items but nearly every kitchen needs a step stool.  Be sure your step stool has rubber feet, is sturdy and has a handrail.  We all know better than to climb on chairs or tables.  Double-sided tape will keep the kitchen mat in place.  

By taking small steps today, before we are elderly,
we can help extend our independence by
ensuring we live in a safe environment. 

 6.      Balance.  This doesn’t have anything to do with your home, it is about you – one of the best methods to avoid falls is to improve your balance.    

Check out this site for a few simple balance exercises, easy to work in to the busiest of days!

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by

Counting Blessings & Serving My Community,

Wendy Smith

 

 

Comments (50)

Pat Champion
John Roberts Realty - Eustis, FL
Call the "CHAMPION" for all your real estate needs

Great post thanks for sharing the tips I hope you have a great weekend.

Mar 22, 2014 04:04 AM
Maria Morton
Platinum Realty - Kansas City, MO
Kansas City Real Estate 816-560-3758

Wendy, this is a very good article on how to fall-proof homes as we age. Love the NIH link to the balance exercises!

Mar 22, 2014 05:49 AM
Karen Fiddler, Broker/Owner
Karen Parsons-Fiddler, Broker 949-510-2395 - Mission Viejo, CA
Orange County & Lake Arrowhead, CA (949)510-2395

Great tips. After falling while showing a house a few months ago, I'd love for all sellers to think about this.

Mar 22, 2014 07:20 AM
Travis "the SOLD man" Parker; Broker/Owner
Travis Realty - Enterprise, AL
email: Travis@theSOLDman.me / cell: 334-494-7846

VERY good list! I knew that after I got into my 60's that my "night vision" seemed down some, but your stat in #2 is "illuminating"....

Mar 22, 2014 07:23 AM
Rafi Footerman
Mid Jersey Inspections - Edison, NJ
Home Inspector, Mold Inspector, Radon and More!

Nice post, I've never seen those useful grab bars.  I often use my 6'4 230 pound 76 year old father as an example for house safety.

Mar 22, 2014 08:54 AM
Jack Tenold
Jack Tenold LLC - Spokane, WA
Specializing in Reverse Mortgages

Hi Wendy, sound advice.  Each item has merit and I hope family and friends of senior homeowners will mention these tips or better yet lend a helping hand.  Aging in place should be a good thing.   Jack

Mar 22, 2014 09:09 AM
Anna Hatridge
R Gilliam Real Estate LLC - Farmington, MO
Missouri Realtor with R Gilliam Real Estate LLC

wonderful information. Thank you so much.

Mar 22, 2014 12:23 PM
Dorte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear Wendy,

Great points! I am really glad you included balance exercises. Just walking or doing other exercises regularly help too, if you have removed all the obvious stumbling blocks.

Mar 22, 2014 02:14 PM
John Juarez
The Medford Real Estate Team - Fremont, CA
ePRO, SRES, GRI, PMN

LOL! I read the headline and I thought “Why is she writing about fall when spring just started?”

Seriously…great points. We have grandchildren and we have parents. So…you can guess we are in the age group that needs to take your suggestions seriously for our family and ourselves.

Mar 23, 2014 01:06 AM
Dana Basiliere
Rossi & Riina Real Estate - Williston, VT
Making deals "Happen"

Wendy,

Good subject; here we have F&S rules for condos that there be code compliant had rails on all stairways. The bathroom safety is optional and usually done to suit the occupants. You are correct about the elderly; broken hips are a cause of death due to ones health being unable to cope with the trauma. 

Mar 23, 2014 01:25 AM
Anonymous
Gordon
Great info thanks for the info!
Mar 23, 2014 06:50 AM
#41
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

Good topic.  We have several 55+ communities around here and you can see the different design in these homes for those facing challenges as they get older.

Mar 24, 2014 02:50 AM
IRMA Beltran
Century 21 M & M and Associates-Turlock homes Real Estate - Turlock, CA
Your Real Estate Agent 4 Life Always there 4 You!

Great information. One fall can be fatal depending on the individuals medical history. Diabetics can't heal from those injuries causing their death.

Mar 24, 2014 03:06 AM
Nora Sims
Northern Shadows Realty, Inc. - Sedona, AZ
helping folks like you since 1978!

Great post Wendy.

My mother-in-love comes from the throw rug era. We've tried and tried to convince her that they represent a huge hazard, but she won't budge.

Mar 25, 2014 05:40 AM
Wendy Smith
Wendy Smith Real Estate - Clearwater, FL
Real Estate Advisor

@Nora - double sided tape?

Mar 25, 2014 05:50 AM
Frank Harper
Idaho Family Real Estate - Boise, ID
Broker/Owner, Realtor, GRI, SFR.

Great post with good information! As the the boomers age, I can see where this information can be useful to my clients! I really liked this post, thanks!

 

Mar 25, 2014 11:27 AM
Regina P. Brown
MBA Broker Consultants - Carlsbad, CA
M.B.A., Broker, Instructor

Excellent tips and reminders!  I like those grab bars in the bathroom.

Mar 27, 2014 11:46 AM
Karen Mathers - REALTOR®
Keller Williams Vero Beach - Vero Beach, FL
When it Matters, Choose Mathers! 772-532-3221

I must say I am impressed with the more "modern"  pull bars for the bathrooms!  They are a great help but sometimes they are just plain ugly!

Mar 27, 2014 11:31 PM
Pat Champion
John Roberts Realty - Eustis, FL
Call the "CHAMPION" for all your real estate needs

Some wonderful tips for the home owner to read. Thanks for sharing have a great weekend.

Mar 28, 2014 02:43 AM
Bill Reddington
Re/max By The Sea - Destin, FL
Destin Florida Real Estate

As I quickly approach 65 I think this will be a big concern for me. I guess time will tell. Balance is an interesting thing.

Jun 26, 2014 03:11 AM