Staying Safe at Home

One of the best ways to stay independent is making the home safe from falls.

American senior citizens want to stay independent and living in their own homes
for as long as possible; many dread the thought of moving to a nursing home
or assisted care facility. Yet each year almost 250,000 people fall and injure
themselves so severely that they require medical attention and many of these
are seniors. As we age, the recovery time from an injury is much slower, so
it is better to prevent an injury before it happens.

It is important to remember that anyone can fall and injure themselves –
young or old – so these tips are for all households.

One of the best ways to stay independent is making the home safe from falls.
Since 60% of falls happen in the home it is the first place to consider making


Look at the lighting throughout the home and change fixtures or bulbs
to make each area as bright as possible. Pay close attention to stairwells,
doorways and hallways which are often not well lit. Extra light in the kitchen
also makes food preparation safer.

Carpet & Clutter

Remove obvious tripping hazards like clutter and loose area rugs. Be
sure carpets are securely attached especially at the edges. Loose areas of a
carpet should be taped or nailed down. If carpet has developed “wrinkles”
over time, it can be stretched and nailed at the wall to hold it tight, this
can be done by a carpet installer or a handy do-it-yourself person.

Grab Bars – Toilet Area

Installing grab bars is an easy way to make any home safer. The bathroom of
every home should have grab bars added for the prevention of falls. If the toilet
is next to a wall that is the perfect location to add a grab bar. A bar on the
wall in front of (across from) the toilet helps people get up and down. Even
above the tank is a good location for adding a grab bar; if the bar is hung
high enough this one can double as a towel bar – but be sure it is a properly
installed grab bar in case it needs to be used as a grab bar. Towel bars are
not designed to support an adults weight and could cause significant injury
if used as a grab bar.

Grab Bars – Shower and Bathtub Area

The shower and bathtub are a very dangerous place for slips and falls because
they are so often wet and can even have soap or shampoo residue that makes the
area extra slick. Grab bars should be installed at the entry to a shower or
tub to assist with both entering and exiting. Inside the shower or tub grab
bars offer support for anyone with balance issues or who needs a bit of help
getting in or out with wet feet. There are straight grab bars that can be installed
vertically and will double as a hold for a hand shower head. Grab bars can be
installed on an angle or horizontally to help someone maneuver in the shower
and tub and can even surround the entire bathing area for added security. Always
mount the grab bar into a wall stud for a secure and safe installation.

Shower Seats or Bench

Portable or permanently mounted shower seats and benches can be added to the
shower or bathtub of those that have difficulty standing during bathing. Using
a portable version is helpful for those recovering from a surgery or other injury
when they expect to return to their former mobility after they recover. Portable
seats are also helpful for if someone needs to occasionally sit while at the
sink – this one piece of equipment can serve in two areas.

Grab Bars – Throughout the Home

Grab bars are often thought to be a bathroom product but they can also be used
throughout the home to make it safer. Installing a grab bar vertically by outside
doorways will help everyone enter the house more safely. If a railing is loose
or missing on stairs to a basement or at the entry to the home, adding a grab
bar will insure a safe passage. Transition areas and any threshold moving from
one area to another is a spot to consider adding a grab bar. A folding grab
bar can be installed if it is only needed occasionally, for example during the
winter season, which will save on space.

Tips for Choosing and Installing Grab Bars

Grab bars should always be securely mounted to wall studs; this will prevent
the grab bar from being pulled from the wall in the event of a fall. Usually
installed 33” to 36” from the floor, grab bars can be installed based
on the height of the user. A petite woman at 5 feet tall may need her grab bars
at a lower height than a man who stands over 6 feet tall. Grab bars are versatile
and can be mounted vertically, horizontally or at any angle. Always select high
quality grab bars with 1.5 mm stainless steel thickness, so the grab bar will
hold up and last. A comfortable grab bar diameter is 1 ¼ inch. Grab bars
are available in a number of colors and finishes – stainless steel in both
polished and brushed (satin) as well as white grab bars are usually the most
popular however other options are also available.

How to realize a safe bath
Grab bars for a safe bath
How to take a sure bath
How to feel  sure in the bath