As we age, everyday tasks we once took for granted can become hazardous. One of these tasks is navigating stairs. However, there are things we can do to make the stairs safer for the elderly. In this blog post, we’ll explore ten ways to help ensure their safety on the stairs.
1. Add sturdy stair railings
Adding sturdy stair railings is a must to make stairs safer for senior citizens. These railings provide extra support and stability to users, reducing the risk of falls and injuries. It is crucial to ensure that the railings are correctly installed and securely fastened to the wall to avoid accidents. If the home doesn’t have any railings, adding them is always better, especially if your elderly loved ones have difficulty navigating the stairs. Additionally, it’s essential to maintain and check the railings regularly for any damages or wear to keep them safe and in good condition. This extra support layer gives seniors the confidence to climb stairs and stay independent safely.
2. Ensure there are handrails on both sides of the stairs
Having sturdy and well-secured handrails on both sides of the stairs is crucial for ensuring the safety of elderly loved ones. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend railings as an important safety feature for seniors at home. The handrails should be comfortable, sturdy, and at a size that fits their hand comfortably. Additionally, if the elderly individual lacks mobility and requires extra support when using the stairs, the stairs should have suitable handrails on both sides. Ideally, all steps would have two railings spaced so that they can grip a rail with each hand. By ensuring the presence of handrails on both sides of the stairs, the risk of accidents and injuries can be significantly reduced, providing your loved ones with a safer environment to navigate their home.
3. Install in-step lighting for improved visibility
One crucial step in making stairs safer for the elderly is installing proper lighting. In-step lighting is a great option for improving visibility and reducing instances of falls on the stairs. But, before installing in-step lighting, remove any carpet runners that could interfere with the lighting. It’s also important to ensure that there are no obstacles that could cause tripping. Adding non-slip treads or adhesive strips can also improve traction and reduce the risk of slips or falls. Overall, a well-lit stairway is key in improving safety for the elderly, and installing in-step lighting is just one step towards achieving that goal.
4. Remove or adjust carpet runners
Another important step in making stairs safer for the elderly is removing or adjusting carpet runners. While these may add to the aesthetic appeal of your staircase, they can also pose a potential hazard to those who are unsteady or use a cane. Instead, consider installing non-slip treads or adhesive strips that provide better traction on the stairs. It’s also essential to ensure that loose carpeting is secured or removed. In addition to addressing the physical safety of the stairs, it’s also important to remove clutter and obstacles from the stairway, maintain existing handrails, and even consider installing in-step lighting for improved visibility. By taking these steps, you can help your older loved ones navigate your home safely and comfortably.
5. Remove clutter and obstacles from the stairway
Removing clutter and obstacles from the stairway makes stairs safer for elderly individuals. As we age, our balance and mobility may decline, increasing the risk of falls. A cluttered stairway is a trip hazard and can lead to dangerous accidents. Therefore, keeping the stairway free and clear of any potential obstacles is essential. This can be achieved by removing loose items, such as shoes, books or toys, from the stairs and landings. Additionally, it’s important to ensure that furniture and other items do not block the stairway, making it easier for elderly individuals to navigate through them safely. Keeping the stairway free of clutter can significantly reduce the risk of falls and make the stairs safer for elderly individuals.
6. Check and maintain existing handrails
Once handrails have been installed, checking and maintaining them regularly is important. The elderly relative may use handrails daily, and worn or damaged handrails can be dangerous. Make sure the handrails are secure and comfortable to hold onto, and are at a size that fits your relative’s hand comfortably. Resilient safety tread coverings should also be carefully installed and maintained, as they can become a hazard if cracked or worn. Additionally, ensure that handrails are installed on both sides of the stairway for extra support and that they are at a height that is accessible for your relative. By maintaining these safety features, you can help reduce the risk of falls and ensure your elderly relative can access the stairs safely and with confidence.
7. Use non-slip treads or adhesive strips
In addition to the other safety measures mentioned, it’s important to use non-slip treads or adhesive strips on stairs to reduce the risk of slips and falls for the elderly. These can be easily applied to the steps and provide extra traction, making the stairs safer and more secure. It’s also a great idea to increase the width of the stairs, if possible, to provide more space for those with mobility limitations. Remember to regularly check and maintain the treads and adhesive strips over time to ensure they continue to provide the necessary grip. Overall, utilizing non-slip treads and adhesive strips for stair safety can significantly prevent accidents and keep everyone in the home safe.
8. Increase the width of the stairs if possible
Another way to make stairs safer for the elderly is by increasing the width of the stairs if possible. This is especially helpful for those who use a cane or walker, as it provides more space for support. By widening the stairs, it also helps to prevent accidental slips and falls. Additionally, it is important to recognize the space on the latch side and extend the width of the stairs accordingly. This can be achieved through a stair remodel or renovation, providing a safer and more comfortable experience for older adults using the stairs. When coupled with other safety measures like sturdy railings and non-slip treads, increasing the width of the stairs is an effective way to ensure the safety of elderly individuals in their homes.
9. Ensure the stairs are well-maintained and free of damage or wear
It’s crucial to ensure that the stairs are well-maintained and free from damage or wear to make them safer for the elderly. Regularly check the stairs for any loose or broken steps, squeaky parts, or cracks that can cause tripping hazards. Fix any damages immediately to prevent accidents from happening. Additionally, stairs must be kept clean and clutter-free to avoid slips and falls. Ensure carpets and runners are in good condition and securely attached to the stairs. Maintaining the stairs’ quality through routine inspections and minor repairs is essential in providing a safe environment for the elderly to navigate without the risk of accidents.
10. Consider a stairlift or elevator for those with mobility limitations.
A stairlift or elevator can be a lifesaver for those with mobility limitations. While the other tips on this list can help make stairs safer, sometimes stairs aren’t an option for those with limited mobility. For this reason, it’s worth considering the installation of a stairlift or elevator. These devices can provide a safe and convenient way for seniors and those with mobility limitations to move between different floors of their homes. Not only do they reduce the risk of falling on the stairs, but they can also help individuals maintain their independence and quality of life. If stairs are a major obstacle, then a stairlift or elevator could be the perfect solution to make the home safer and more accessible for everyone in the household.