Safety for Seniors: Dealing with Stairs and Doorways
for your senior family member or friend may mean finding ways for them
to navigate both stairs and doorways. Enhancements to personal safety
can be improved significantly with just a few of the following
Personal safety in
dealing with stairs:
Ph.D has written in her book Eldercare for Dummies that "Although
stairwells can seem as intimidating as the Grand Canyon to a shaky
elder, they can be elder-proofed". Here are several of the ideas that
she has suggested:
Put up a second
railing to reduce the chances of stumbling.
Mark the edges
of steps with brightly colored tape to compensate for failing
eyesight and faulty depth perception.
steps with a rough-texture paint or trim the steps with abrasive
Make sure that
your elder wears shoes with soles that grip the floor. Socks or
smooth-soled slippers are hazardous to your elder’s personal safety.
Attempt to move
your elder to the first floor if at all possible.
stair-lift (a motorized chair with safety belts and a swivel
seat that rides up and down a rail attached to a stairwell).
A motion detector
can also enhance personal safety by signaling that your senior is near
a dangerous situation such as approaching the top of the stairs or
possibly even leaving the home without your knowledge. Different
models can be programmed to chime rather than sound loud alarms which
may have a tendency to scare your senior. You may call the
Alzheimer's store at (1-800-752-3238) or visit them online at
factor in the personal safety of your senior is to make doorways
accommodating. A 32-inch threshold will accommodate most wheelchairs,
although some extra wide or power driven wheelchairs may need as much
as 36 inches to pass through. Sometimes you may be able to just
remove the door, its hinges and the door molding or threshold to make
the opening large enough for the wheel chair to pass without the
additional cost of a new door to be installed.
Usually the home
modifications necessary for wheelchair accessibility such as adding
ramps and widening doorways doesn’t require a building permit, but you
should always check your own municipality to make sure before starting
construction. You can usually find your local housing inspector in
the front of your phone book under city government.
You can also find
typical accessibility problems associated with personal safety and
home-modification solutions as well as financial assistance for home
modifications on the administration aging web site called "Elder
Action: Action Ideas for Older Persons and Their Families.(
Other sources of
assistance with personal safety issues related to your senior are your
neighborhood senior centers and local Area Agencies on Aging (which
may be located through the eldercare locator) are excellent sources of
information about free or low-cost home modification repair programs
in your local area.
from confusion are especially challenging opportunities to improve
personal safety. If the walls, floors and doorways are of the same
color, bewildered seniors can't tell where one ends and the other
begins. Merely painting a dark line where the wall meets the floor or
painting the woodwork a dark color may help a lot. You may also
enhance their personal safety by purposely coloring the door the same
as the walls when you want to prevent your senior from wandering out
of the door. However, you should still remind your elder of where the
exits are situated and what to do in emergencies.
Paul Susic M.A. Licensed
Psychologist Ph.D Candidate (Health and Geriatric Psychologist)
Senior Care Psychological Consulting 2451 Executive Dr. Ste.
103 St. Charles, Missouri 63303 (636) 300-9922