The Comforts of Home
In the course of my work I visit several hundred homes every year, in the process of working to make the home safer, a few home comforts always come up for discussion.
Pets (and other random items)
Our furry companions are one of the most important members of the family, just ask my dog Maggie. However, they have this great habit of checking if you are still coming down the stairs or along the hallway by stopping. I have several clients that have landed in rehab after unexpectedly being helped by their furry friend.
Grandkids and their toys are similar to pets; they are fun, but can get in the way. So no one is giving up their pet or the grandkids, I brought this up as something to keep in the back of your mind. If the dog is always excited around visitors, and can knock you over may be that’s a good time to have them in a carrier or kennel. If the Lego are taking over the entire living area, maybe it’s time to find a handy tote or basket.
Rugs add character, warmth on wood floors, trap dirt at doorways, and keep your feet warm in front of the sink. They also have two great characteristics, they have edges and they like to move. Which are exactly why in a home safety assessment the occupational therapist will hone in on your rugs.
The most common fall I have seen is a walker catching the edge of the rug, also if you cannot make clean steps your feet might catch too. They are a major risk, so take them out. They can also slip from under your feet on wooden floors or bunch up, I see this a lot in halls and entry ways.
One area where a mat or rug can work is in a bathroom, some will disagree on this but a slick wet vinyl or tile surface is dangerous and a mat with a good non slip backing or is stuck down can be safer. Remember it still has edges you can catch on and if not secured correctly can move.
Of all of the items in the home removing shower doors is the longest discussion. Whether it is fear of water getting out, bad memories of dirty shower curtains years back, or a host of other reasons.
If you are mobile, do not need to sit down in the shower, can easily step over the threshold, and the layout of the bathroom works, then shower doors are great.
If have access issues they can be a hazard. Hinged shower doors are not a support because they move. The frame and any door type can restrict your ability to physically get in and out of the shower, particularly if you are trying to sit down, and if you fall you can find yourself trapped
I have taken out many shower doors and the vast majority of clients are amazed how much easier the bathing process becomes, not just for them but also for a caregiver.
Collectables, Furniture and Stuff
Lastly the topic of stuff. If you have lived in your home for many years, downsized, or just like collecting, you have likely gathered a lot of memories and things. It can be hard to part with these, but it doesn’t do any harm to look around for possible hazards.
A couple of quick tips; Make sure surfaces are clear in areas you transit, so if you fall you have a chance of holding onto a counter edge and not those collectable figurines. Are there items that are unstable that if they fall could hurt you; For example, the antique umbrella stand or the bronze bust of Napoleon.
Are the walkways through your house clear of items that restrict access, stop a door from fully opening, present a trip hazard, or stop you getting to your car. If there are, maybe it’s time for the kids to stop by and do some rearranging.
I hope this article gives you a few things to think about.