Photo: Living/Dining Room Combo with belongings organized in wall shelf. Photo by Nathan Van Egmond on Unsplash.
Eliminate Hazards and Clutter to Increase Safety in the Home
Before we even get started on Aging in Place design strategies, some basics of Home Safety should be addressed. These basics are low or no-cost, and are necessary to execute in the name of safety and fall reduction.
The first place to start is by looking down on the ground. Look at the floors in the home, room-by-room and section-by-section. All small throw rugs and throw carpets should be eliminated–they are tripping hazards. Alternatives such as 5/16” pile non-skid mats with heavy rubber backing can be used for entry doorways. Any bathroom mats must have efficient non-skid backing. Non-skid backing can wear over time, so test backing quality to ensure the non-skid side is still working properly. Remove area rugs altogether as they can curl up or can slip around. If a client insists on keeping a valuable area rug, ensure the rug is either taped down or tacked down to prevent corners or edges from curling up.
Tables that have sharp edges or sharp corners should be removed and replaced. All worn carpeting and floor covering that is bubbled, wrinkled, frayed or stretched out of shape should be replaced. Large furniture pieces should be moved out of the main traffic areas. Floor lamps and small items should be kept out of walkways. Position electrical cords close to baseboards and out of walkways. Use a floor cord cover (rubber duct cord cover or cable shield cord cover) if a cord must cross a walkway.
Pick up shoes, clothes, books and other items that one could trip over. If a client has a “shoes off” household, install a shoe storage shelf and a chair for removing shoes at the entry door. Encourage clients to always put away all objects when finished using them. If a client lives in a multi-person household, encourage them to create house rules such as: “replace items to the same location when finished,” “clean up spills immediately,” “keep cabinet doors closed,” “push in chairs under the table”. Place the list of rules on a family bulletin board, on the refrigerator, or post in an obvious location. Get the whole household involved by establishing these simple rules.
It is crucial to eliminate clutter, by disposing of unnecessary items and putting items where they belong when finished using them. These simple strategies will not only eliminate hazards and clutter, but will also make the home safer and reduce the risk of falls. Encourage your client and their loved ones to BE RELENTLESS in the quest to eliminate clutter and hazards. For more information on fall prevention and resources, please visit the sites listed below.
Fall Prevention Resources:
Aging in Place Overview: