Written by Becky Wilcox
Most of us don’t want to think about getting older — especially the ways in which we might get frailer. We want to think of ourselves as strong and independent forever. But the reality is that we will get weaker as we age. Our bones will become more brittle, we will lose muscle mass, and we might even lose cognitive function. We’ll be a little more wobbly and a lot more prone to injury.
Rather than ignoring that reality and setting ourselves up for serious injury, we should be making plans to make our homes as safe as they can be so that we can live independently for as long as possible. Here are a few things you can do to make sure you stay safe as you age:
Invest in Mobility Aides
A simple fall can lead to a major injury when you are older and your bones are weaker. You could break a bone just slipping off the last stair or you could even break a hip if you fall. If you have stairs in your home, you should invest in a residential elevator to be on the safe side. It will also help you if you have something heavy to carry up or down the stairs. You should definitely install mobility aides in the bathroom, where you are most likely to fall. Put a handrail in the tub or shower, and put one next to the toilet. If your joints are feeling creaky, you might even consider adding a toilet seat or a shower seat (or both). Don’t let your pride get in the way of your safety!
Address Slippery Surfaces
Loss of mobility isn’t the only reason you might have a fall. Slippery surfaces can lead to a hard landing even when you otherwise feel steady on your feet. Take care of these surfaces both inside and outside your home to reduce your chance of a slip and fall.
Replace slippery stone paths outside, or rough them up with some sand or salt. Put down friction strips on outside stone or wood stairs as these can get slippery when wet. Put mats inside and outside your doorways to catch water. Use runners and rugs throughout your home on other slippery stretches of flooring. Put friction strips inside your tub and shower.
Add Bumpers to Furniture Corners
Not only will your bones weaken as you get older, but your skin will also be a lot more delicate. It may seem like it hardly takes any pressure at all for your skin to bruise or bleed. If you knock into the corner of a piece of furniture, you are likely to get a serious injury.
Add bumpers to all sharp corners, including on tables, consoles, window ledges, and fireplaces. Also, take time to have your furniture re-arranged so you have more open pathways to move around your home.
Install a Home Security System
Some threats will come from outside your home. You may have taken care of every risk for a fall or injury in your home, but you can’t control whether someone else will try to break in and take your things or hurt you. However, you can install a home security system so that you get help as quickly as possible if someone does enter.
In many cases, would-be robbers will be deterred if they see that you have a security system installed. They don’t want the trouble of the alarm sounding. They would much rather go to a house with no alarm and take what they want undetected. Even if they break in, they are more likely to run off if they hear an alarm.
Getting older is inevitable. You can’t prevent it, but you can plan for it. Besides investing in your retirement and getting the right health care, you can ensure that you have a safe and happy retirement by making your home as safe as possible. Following these tips will help you reduce your risk of injury or harm from others. Nothing will reduce your risk to zero, but these smart strategies will certainly lower your number of visits to the emergency room and will add many years to life.