33 percent of all seniors will suffer a fall this year. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than 50 percent of the seniors will talk about the fall with their general physician. Even if there isn't a risk of falling, it's important to increase mobility to improve the quality of life of homebound seniors or even those who are undergoing occupational therapy.
Among seniors, falls and reduced mobility are the most common cause of injuries, which often results in cuts, hip fractures, and severe brain and head injuries. Even if an individual doesn't suffer any serious injuries after a fall, the experience can scare him or her into avoiding certain activities in hopes of preventing future falls. Lowered mobility can also inhibit people from fully experiencing what life has to offer them.
Home Improvements to Increase Mobility
Unfortunately, falls frequently occur at home where seniors often feel a sense of security. Here are 10 DIY home improvements to increase mobility and/or reduce the risk of senior falls.
1. Install Handrails and Grab Bars
Handrails and grab bars are safety devices that can reduce the risk of senior falls. Your loved one can use grab bars and handrails to use the stairs, take a shower or bath, and use the toilet without hurting him or herself. You should have grab bars by bathtubs and toilets and handrails in hallways and stairways.
2. Adequate Lighting
Another common cause of senior falls is inadequate lighting. You should install bright light bulbs throughout the home of your loved one. It is especially important to have adequate lighting in narrow hallways and all stairways. You may want to add night lights in bathrooms and bedrooms so that your loved one can go to the bathroom at night safely.
3. Nonslip Surfaces
You should try to make as many of the surfaces as possible nonslip. Showers and bathtubs should definitely have nonslip surfaces. Other surfaces that can be very dangerous when wet include porches, kitchens, and bathrooms. Nonslip mats are an easy way to prevent falls on surfaces that are often slick or wet.
4. Live On One Level
Stairs are still a major falling hazard even if you install guardrails. Therefore, if possible, have your loved one live on one level. If this is not possible, try to limit the trips your loved one needs to take up and down the stairs. For example, you may want to move the bedroom of your loved one downstairs.
5. Use a Shower Chair
While grab bars near the shower will reduce the risk of falls, you should consider having your loved one use a shower chair and hand-held shower nozzle to reduce the risk of falls even more.
6. Relocate Electric Cords
If there are electric cords in walkways and frequently trafficked areas, you should relocate them to reduce the risk of senior falls.
7. Widen Doorways
If necessary, you should consider widening the doorways in the home of your loved one to accommodate wheelchairs. That way, your loved one won't have to get up from the wheelchair to go through the doorways
8. Build a Ramp
Where there are stairs outside, you should build a ramp in and out of the house for your loved one.
Not only can a fall cause your elderly loved one to suffer major injuries, but it can also scar your loved one emotionally. Fortunately, as long as you perform some of the DIY home improvements discussed above, you will reduce the risk of senior falls significantly.