Preventing a fall or related injury is a key aspect of successful aging in place. It doesn’t matter whether the person resides in assisted living, at home, or in another type of senior care community. As the primary caregiver or a concerned family member, you should be certain that the living space (apartment, house, or room) is free of trip hazards and other barriers to independent living. Here are a few things to consider:
- Can my loved one reach items needed on a regular basis? While old letters or archived household bills may not need to be accessible, things like washcloths, dish soap, important phone numbers, personal care items, food and medications do.
- Are there any electrical cords/wires lying across the main walking paths? Cords and wires to lamps, space heaters, TVs, computers and other devices should be neatly bundled, secured and tucked away behind the objects, away from where the individual walks.
- Are there throw rugs or carpets of different pile heights that make transitioning from hardwood, tile or smooth floors difficult (especially if the individual has a walker or wheelchair)? Even when secured, rugs are a trip hazard, not only because of difficulty with walking or maneuvering a mobility aid, but due to impaired vision and depth perception issues that many seniors experience.
- Is the environment clutter free? This goes beyond removing piles of paper or junk stored in corners. Limit the amount of furnishings in the space and keep the layout open and clean. A side table may look lovely but it can also get in the way.