Do your parents have any of these items in their physical environment: throw rugs, stairs without rails, clutter, poor lighting?  

Throw Rugs: Throw rugs are a major tripping hazard for seniors. Many seniors have old throw rugs or mats that can have corners that curl over time or the mats with the fringe edging. These rugs should be removed, at the very least they can be secured with double sided carpet tape so they won’t slip however they could still pose a tripping hazard that’s why it is best to remove them entirely.

Stairs Without Rails: Stairs without rails are a concern for seniors. Hand rails are essential. It is a good idea to install handrails on both sides of a staircase if at all possible. This will provide the maximum amount of support for a senior with mobility issues. I know that a lot of this seems like common sense because it is. But quite often we ignore common sense, for example even if there are hand rails on a staircase, are they secure or have they been loose for years or even decades and we would eventually get around to fixing it. Well the time to fix it is now that your parents are older and really need secure hand rails.

Clutter: General tidiness and clutter are big safety issues if your parents (or other loved ones) are unstable on their feet. I’ve seen some really bad places where the senior was a hoarder and movement in the home was very limited due to a horrendous amount of clutter. That is an entirely separate issue. I’m talking about the general clutter that our parents accumulate over a lifetime. You know what it’s like when you move, you wonder where all the junk came from. Many seniors haven’t moved in 20 to 30 to 40 years, that’s a lot of accumulated clutter. Make sure that your loved ones walking paths are clear of things such as shoes, electrical cords, magazines and newspapers. It may also be a good idea to remove side tables in hallways in order to make a clear path and to make room for ambulatory aides such as a walker or roller.

Poor Lighting: Let there be light! Good lighting is essential to reducing falls, many seniors have vision issues under the best of circumstances, imagine what it is like getting up at 2am to go to the bathroom without your glasses on. It is a good idea to put night lights in hallways and bathrooms, with current technology you can even go as far as having sensors activate lighting when you walk into a hallway or the bathroom. If there are stairs that your parent frequently uses in a dark stairwell you may want to consider putting bright strips of tape on the edge of the stairs to make them more visible.