Below is a list of things to consider. Many modifications can be made for little or no cost.
- Add handrails: Add a second handrail to any steps. The leverage can make all the difference in the world for safety and navigation.
- Add entranceway grab bars: Add grab bars on both sides of the door going into the house from the garage if you have more than one step to navigate. Many falls occur as you are entering or exiting the house.
- Remove throw rugs: Tape down or remove them.
- Replace other rugs: Replace rugs, if needed, with the non-skid type especially in front of any stairs.
- Secure electrical cords: Tape down or remove/reroute electrical cords that might be a tripping hazard.
- Add rug strips to stairs: If your stairs are not carpeted, consider adding non-skid rug strips on each step.
- Add grab bars to bathrooms: Add grab bars near the shower, tub, and toilet to help you sit down, get up and safely stand.
- Add shower/tub grab bars: Add grab bars to the interior of your shower or around the tub. Removable suction grab bars often work quite well and can be taken on trips.
- Make shower/tub surfaces safer: Make certain you have skid-free surfaces on the floor or a high quality bath mat.
- Add a shower/tub stool: Slip-free shower and bath stools with adjustable height legs make for easier and safer bathing.
- Change out the shower/tub hardware: Add a hand-held nozzle for easier rinsing from the seated position.
- Raise the height of the chairs: Add raisers to the legs of the chairs and sofa you use. They can be as simple as 2x4 or 4x4s inserted under the legs. When this no longer works, consider using an uplift-seat or go all the way and buy a chair than can lift you to an upright position before exiting.
- Use dining room chairs with arms: Or, use sturdy pillows/cushion or an up-lift seat.
- Raise the bed height: Add raisers to the legs of your bed to make it easier and safer to get up. Most bedding stores have these raisers for sale.
- Raise the height of the commode: Install a handicap commode. It can raise the height of the seat by 2-4 inches. If that will not help, use an elevated seat (“tallette” device) to increase the height of the seat 4-6” and it is portable. If that does not work, consider a seat-lift device. If possible, add arms to the device to get better push off.
- Add stools: In the garage, nook, or hobby room add stools to make it easier to work and get up afterwards. Stools with a swivel seat are especially nice in work areas.
- Improve lighting: Some hallways or rooms are darker than others. Add lights or increased wattage bulbs in these rooms.
- Get rid of clutter: Over time certain rooms collect things (clutter) that could become a tripping hazard. Make a point of picking up or moving aside potential hazards such as newspapers on the floor, a foot stool in a traffic area, a small table in a hallway, etc.
- Rearrange your stuff: In the garage, nook, kitchen, and bathroom rearrange the shelves, cupboards and tables to make it easier to reach items you use regularly.
- Invest in a reacher-grabber: Many falls occur when we lose our balance while trying to pick something up from the floor. These reachers are great for picking up many things.
And, most importantly, do not be afraid to ask for help. There are resources available. County services and some independent companies will perform assessments and can also provide recommendations and information on needed modifications. Also consider contacting your regional MDA office for assistance. Most MDA offices have a “loaner locker” of home aides that could help you determine what would work best before performing modifications or purchasing something.
Three keys: (1) In your walk-through, look for “potential” hazards or conditions that might cause a trip, a fall, or an unsafe situation. (2) Consider “worst case” scenarios and then consider intermediate and long-term options. (3) If you are not already exercising, begin a program that will help maintain your mobility.
The above list is a lot to consider, but it is not everything. I would appreciate your thoughts to additions to this list.