7 Unexpected Ways to Make Your Home Safer
As the caregiver to someone who has osteoporosis, you probably worry your loved one will suffer a bad fall. Osteoporosis weakens bone, making it more likely that a fall will result in a broken bone. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, half of all people who have osteoporosis will break a bone, resulting in chronic pain and disability that can diminish your loved one’s quality of life.
To help your loved one stay safe, you’ve removed cords off the floor, eliminated throw rugs and put non-skid bath mats in the tub. But don’t overlook seemingly small changes in your home that can make a big difference in your loved one’s safety. Here’s what you can do:
- Place bright-colored tape on the top and bottom steps of stairways. For someone who has trouble seeing, the tape will help her see when she’s about to reach the first or last step.
- Provide easy access to lighting. Whether he or she is turning on a lamp or flicking a switch, make sure it’s easy for your loved one to turn on a light. Consider trading traditional switches for glow-in-the-dark or illuminated switches. Keep a bedroom lamp right next to the bed or light up the path between the bedroom and bathroom with night-lights.
- Choose the right seating. Remove rocking chairs if your loved one has poor balance, suggests Lee Shapiro, MD, a rheumatologist in Albany, NY who frequently treats patients who fall. If her legs are weak, she should avoid low seats where she has to bend at the knees to sit. Very soft seats without adjacent arm supports are also unsafe.
- Keep frequently used items within easy reach. Move food items to lower shelves in kitchen cabinets, store medications, vitamins and toiletries on low shelves in bathroom cabinets and closets and keep sweaters and clothes in easy-to-reach drawers and closet shelves.
- Give your loved one a cell or portable phone to carry around the house. Keeping it with her will take away the temptation of running for the phone, which can often lead to a fall, Shapiro says.
- Install a sturdy railing in the shower. Towel bars don’t work, says Shapiro. Make sure that whatever she grabs onto can support her weight. If you can afford it, replace the tub with a shower so she doesn’t have to step over the tub wall to get in it.
- Combat clutter. Remove items from areas that get a lot of traffic, such as stairs and hallways. And be sure to store items immediately after use, since your loved one won’t be accustomed to their presence in that area.