Posted by Sharon Lanen Coskren on 6/1/2018

There's no question about it: Aging can be a mixed blessing -- especially if you're not prepared for it! Although aging does bring with it some advantages -- the most notable one being wisdom -- a certain amount of physical decline is inevitable.

Staying active and leading a healthy lifestyle are two ways to slow down the aging process, but there's another key element many people overlook when planning for their retirement years: eliminating tripping and slipping hazards in the home. Whether you're concerned about your own wellbeing or that of aging parents, here are several steps you can take to reduce the risk of injury from accidental falls.

  • Install or secure stair railings: While most homes are equipped with stair railings, they may eventually become loose, wobbly, or even detached. Making sure that all stairways have easy-to-reach, securely fastened railings can make life at home safer for everyone.
  • Stair safety tips: Slippery stairs (indoors and out) may need to have adhesive safety strips applied to them to help improve traction. If freezing temperatures are ever an issue for you, it's always helpful to have a small, easy to lift bag of rock salt on hand to melt icy walkways and stairs. Even though you may live in a warmer part of the country, temperatures do occasionally plummet to 32 degrees and below, so no one is immune to cold snaps and occasional freezing conditions in winter --even Floridians! Here's one cautionary tip that relates to basement stairs: For some reason, perhaps because of inadequate lighting, people (of all ages) sometimes take a tumble when they don't see the bottom stair. If this ever happens in your home, you may need to either make the lighting brighter and/or apply bright tape or paint to the bottom stair to make it more visible.
  • Reduce slipping hazards in bathrooms: Bathtub and shower floor surfaces can get pretty slippery when soap, shampoo, and water are added, so the use of non-slip rubber mats or safety appliques can help prevent potentially dangerous falls. Installing grab bars in showers and bathtub areas can make life easier and safer for aging residents or visitors in your home, too.
  • Remove clutter from floors and stairs: This objective can be more challenging when you have children who leave toys, books, balls, clothes, spilled liquids, food, and other miscellaneous things on the floor. However, when you have seniors trying to safely navigate their way around the house, keeping clutter and spills to a bare minimum is essential. That also holds true for minimizing tripping risks from cable wires, extension cords, and throw rugs.

If you're considering remodeling all or part of your home to accommodate either your needs or those of aging relatives, many experienced contractors and remodelers are well versed in products and strategies for making a home more senior friendly or handicapped accessible.