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House hazards to avoid

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Loose rugs and slippery floors are just some of the obstacles that can cause a nasty fall

Q My elderly mom is living with us in what has become a multi-generational house. I am worried our home isn’t safe for her and that she might fall – what should I look out for?’

A Falling hazards in the home include loose rugs or carpets, power cords on the floor, unstable furniture, obstacles in traffic ways, poor illumination, footwear, stairs, lack of steps or stair railings, pets and slippery floors.

Q My partner and I are getting on in years and he has recently taken a turn in health. It has become clear that we need to make our home more friendly for our golden years. Please can you advise how we can “seniorise” our home?

A You can start with putting up handrails up in the bathroom, a seat in the shower and an anti-slip mat in the bath. Loose carpets and rugs are a big no as they can slide or curl up at the edges.

Safety measures for seniors

In the bathroom:

It is easy to slip in the bathroom. Use a non-skid rug or mats next to the bath for safe entry and exit, and non-slip rubber bath mats that stick to the bottom of your bath.

Grab bars are invaluable for support, and should be strategically placed in the bath and shower area, and next to the toilet.

In living areas:

Living areas should have clear pathways, uncluttered by telephone or electrical cords.

Light switches should be installed at the entrances to rooms to avoid walking into dark rooms to turn on lights.

Ensure that floor rugs are non-slip, or if not, attach non-slip backing tape.

Make sure that couches and chairs are the correct height. They should not be too low.

On stairs and in passages:

Ensure there is sufficient light to properly illuminate stairs and all landings, and that these are always kept clear. Broken or loose steps should be replaced and kept in good repair.

In the bedroom:

Quick access to lamps and phones is vital. Install and use a night light.

Getting in and out of bed should be made as easy as possible.

* Experts: Information gathered from the South African Pharmaceutical Journal, ER24 and Care Givers SA, an organisation which places caregivers with elderly and frail patients

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