Saturday, April 18, 2009

Keeping your retirement home safe

Some of us retirees have lived in our family home for 30 years. Others have opted for a more carefree lifestyle in one of the many types of resort-style retirement communities or some variation of a continuing care retirement community (See April 5, 2009 post). If you're one of the former group of retirees who just can't let go of the big family home and yard, then you need to think about keeping your retirement environment safe.

As a Home Health Physical Therapist, I have gathered up a lot of ideas for home safety for seniors, and will share some of them with you in the next several blogs. While retirement communities and assisted living apartments have often designed their units with home safety for seniors in mind, many of these principles can also be applied. These may seem like pure common sense, but if you gain even one bit of knowledge that will prevent a fall, I have done my job!

The first area I will address is the bathroom. This is probably one of the most common places that falls occur.

1) Make sure bathroom rugs are securely attached to the floor or have rubberized non-slip backing.

2) Install grab bars in the shower. Make sure they are anchored into studs.

3) Use a tub transfer bench or a shower chair if appropriate.

4) Put non-skid tape or decals on the floor of your tub or shower.

5) Install night lights in hallways, bathrooms, and bedrooms.

6) Keep trash receptacles emptied so debris does not accumulate and spill over onto the floor.

7) Keep shower curtains inside the tub so water doesn’t spill out onto the floor.

8) Wipe up spills promptly.

9) Keep soap within easy reach while you are in the tub or shower, and make sure soap dish is located so soap does not fall out of tub or shower stall onto the floor.

10) Install a fan in the bathroom so steam from the bath or shower does not build up.

11 Organize cabinets so you don’t have to stretch and reach overhead.

12) Use non-skid floor wax, or none at all.

13) Consider using a bedside commode if you have to get up frequently in the night to go to the bathroom.

14) Use a toilet riser or install grab bars if you have difficulty arising from a low toilet seat. Make sure they are securely installed.

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