As spring quickly approaches, the days are getting longer and the weather is getting warmer. Each passing day brings us closer to outdoor activities without the fear of being too cold. While all is well and good with outdoor activities, for our elderly loved ones the outdoors can bring an increased risk of falls.
A study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that falls occurred outdoors more often than indoors amongst most age groups. Furthermore, 73% of outdoor falls for people over the age of 45 occurred due to environmental factors such as uneven surfaces, slipping or tripping on objects and poorly maintained walkways.
Considering the impending spring weather, we decided there would be no better way to end our blog series on smart aging-in-place modifications than to explore the topic of home exterior modifications.
When it comes to aging-in-place modifications, the exterior of the home is usually the last to receive any love. However, when you take into consideration the facts that, like the garage, the exterior of your home is a hub to the outside world, and elderly have an increased risk of experiencing a fall-related injury outside, outdoor aging-in-place modifications quickly rise in importance.
The following are some ways you can show the exterior of your elderly loved one’s home some love and increase their safety.
The entrance is perhaps one of the most important aspects of an aging-in-place house. We mean, what good does an aging-in-place optimized house do if it is dangerous to enter? Keeping your loved one’s future mobility in mind, it is recommended that the door has a no lip entry and a ramp instead of stairs. The ramp should be built to ADA requirements and equipped with non-slip grip and hand rails.
If the doorway is not already covered, you will want to consider your options for covering it. This will help minimize the amount of precipitation that accumulates there. A bench or shelf located next to the front door is helpful for when your loved one has their hands full. It will keep them from having to bend over to put stuff down when they need to get keys out. The door should have a lever-type knob. Finally, in case your elderly loved one forgets their keys, an optional key-pad unlock or hide-a-key will keep them from being locked out.
Much like inside the house, your elderly loved one’s exterior should have plenty of lights available. Solar-powered lights are a great option for areas that get plenty of light. All walkways, the front door and each side of the house should be amply covered with lights. Since it may be hard for your loved one to remember to turn on the exterior lights, having them on a time or motion sensor is the best option. Some companies also offer lighting systems that can be operated by smart phones.
Most outdoor falls can be attributed to uneven surfaces and walkways that are poorly maintained. With this in mind, keeping your loved one’s walkways safe is of the utmost importance. Shrubbery and trees should be kept trimmed and off the walkway. If your loved one has a walkway lined with gravel or bark, consider having a curb installed to keep it from finding its way onto the walkway. Finally, any cracks, lips or moss should be removed and fixed immediately.
Keeping up on house maintenance can be overwhelming for anyone especially for the elderly. It is important to keep up on maintenance because it is easier to repair small issues than big ones. If you are not handy, having a contractor you trust is important. In addition to maintenance, you will also want to consider hiring groundskeepers to keep the lawn mowed, weeds pulled and vegetation trimmed.
We Can Help
If your elderly loved enjoys spending time outside on a porch or deck and you worry about their safety when it comes to falls, SmartCells Fall Protection mats or flooring can provide the perfect safety solution.
The unique SmartCells dual-stiffness technology provides stability for balance impaired persons and care givers, while at the same time providing life-saving cushioning to protect our loved ones when they fall.
SmartCells Fall Protection mats combine effectiveness with style and quality, including features like a low profile height (1/2”) and molded-in beveled edges which reduce tripping hazards and allow most wheeled objects to roll over the mat, without needing to move it out of the way.
SmartCells Fall Protection mats are available in a variety of colors (Black, Light Brown, and Grey) and configurations ranging from pre-sized mats (3×5 and 24×68) to build-your-own mats to fit custom-sized areas.
SmartCells Fall Protection mats and flooring are made of latex-free rubber that will not absorb liquids, which reduces the risk of contamination and infection and allows them to be easily cleaned. Independent testing, using widely accepted protocols (ATSM F355 – 10a) indicates that SmartCells cushioning technology is 2 – 4 times more effective at attenuating impact forces than other products that are nearly twice as thick.
SmartCells Fall Protection: We’ll be there when you can’t be.