For many families with elderly loved ones, the fear of their loved one(s) falling and sustaining serious physical injuries is always present. Fortunately, there are many ways you can use to make your home, or that of your elderly loved one(s), safer.
Most elderly people who still live at home spend most of their time in the living room. This is where they normally relax or hang out with their family. This also means that the risk of falling in this part of the house is more pronounced.
If you are looking to make your living room safer for a senior, you have come to the right place. Below, I have compiled a short list of simple, but highly effective, tips on how to prevent falls in the living room.
1. Get The Right Furniture
The first step towards making your parent’s living room safer, and preventing falls, involves getting the right chairs. Seniors face a higher risk of falling when they have to work harder to get out of a chair. It is very hard for seniors to get out of low lying chairs, as well as those with soft armrests and backs once they are seated. The risk of falling is high, as attempt to get the necessary momentum they need to get up from a sitting position.
To eliminate this risk, and prevent falls, it is recommended that you get seats that are higher from the floor. The best chairs should also have sturdy armrests that are easy for seniors to grab and use for support. Chairs that have a firmer back and seating surface also make it easier for seniors to stand up.
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2. Rearrange The Living Room
Once you get the right chairs, it is time to rearrange the living room. The main aim here is to prevent falls by creating clear paths that make it easier for your elderly loved one to move around this space; anything that blocks any direct paths to any space that your loved one frequents, whether it’s the bathroom or kitchen, must be relocated.
To make it easier for your loved one to move around the living room, start by leaving spaces between large pieces of furniture, such as chairs, to create clear, and easily accessible, walkways. Any objects that may be blocking these paths should also be moved.
3. Ensure There’s Enough Lighting
Deteriorating vision normally makes it harder for seniors to see clearly, especially in poorly lit indoor conditions. This increases the risk of running into various objects, and falling over after tripping over them.
To minimize this risk, it is recommended that you work on improving the lighting in the living room, if necessary. If the living room is poorly lit, consider adding more lights at strategic points. You can also find ways of increasing the amount of natural light coming into the living room during the day, when the sun is up.
RELATED: Best Lighting for Seniors
4. Keep Cables And Cords Out Of The Way
Cords and cables running along the floor are listed among the most significant risk factors when it comes to falls in the living room. The risk does not just come from visible cables only. Cables and cords running under the carpets and rugs are also considered to be trip hazards.
To eliminate the risk of falling associated to cables and cords in the living room, I recommend that you remove them. Take the time to locate each cable running across walkways, whether above or beneath, carpets and rugs and relocate them. The cables can be placed behind furniture, such as chairs, or run along walls, where seniors cannot run over them.
Be sure to keep all cables out of the way, especially if you decide to add more lights in the living room!
5. Attend To Any Rugs And Carpets
Throw rugs and upended carpets are significant trip hazard where seniors are concerned. The rugs and carpets may catch the toes of your elderly loved one, leading to a serious fall. On the other hand, when placed on slippery surfaces, throw rugs can move around leading to slips and falls.
To eliminate the risk of tripping and/or slipping, it is best that you remove throw rugs from the living room. If this is not an option, especially in homes with wood or vinyl floors – which also present the risk of slipping and falling – consider using non-slip padding under the rugs and carpets to secure them to the floor and keep them from slipping around.
It is also wise to regularly inspect the edges of such carpets and rugs to ensure that they are not curled upwards, presenting a trip hazard.
RELATED: Best Flooring for Elderly
6. Remove Clutter
A cluttered living room exposes your aging loved one to a significant risk of tripping over something and falling. If there is too much stuff in the living room, clearing paths for seniors will also be quite a challenge. Even worse, something is bound to end up blocking one of the many paths you just finished clearing, negating all your efforts!
To keep this space as safe as possible, take the time to sort out all of the stuff that was originally there, separating essentials from the clutter. Any appliances, cords, cables and furniture items that are not longer being used should be cleared out to free space.
Low lying coffee tables, which seniors may find struggle to spot, should be among the stuff to be cleared out, as they are trip hazards that can lead to serious falls. Furniture items with sharp corners can also pull your loved one(s) down when their loose clothing gets caught by these corners.
It’s true that a living room should be inviting, esthetically appealing and comfortable regardless of whether the occupants are young or old. However, it should also be safe. You don’t have to compromise on the existing look and feel of your elderly loved one’s living room, just to make it safer for them.
With just a few simple changes, using the above list of tips as a guide, you can make this space safer for seniors, and prevent falls, while still maintaining its comfort and appeal. Afterwards, you can put your mind at ease, knowing that your loved one is safer in their own living room.