Deck the Halls Without the Falls

As the weather turns colder and Canadians begin preparing for the holiday season, CARP offers tips about how to make your home comfortable, safe and free of falls for older guests.

“During the holiday festivities when families come together, it’s a good idea to make sure that your older guests are in a safe environment,” said Laura Tamblyn Watts, chief public policy officer at CARP. “Nearly one half of all injuries caused by falls happen at home. By keeping all areas tidy, dry and well-lit, you will reduce the risk of someone falling in your home.”

Falls are especially dangerous for seniors and account for over 25% of all emergency room visits. Falls can lead to hip fractures, head injuries and even death.

If you are welcoming guests who may have balance, mobility or vision problems, here are some tips for making your home safer:

Cut the clutter. Keep the floors and stairways free of clutter like shopping bags, gifts or visitors’ luggage. A bench by the front door can help with this, and is very useful for older family members when putting on or removing footwear.

Watch for water. With extra guests during the holidays comes extra cooking, cleaning and visits to the “loo”. Take care to wipe up spills and splashes in the kitchen and bathroom. Use non-slip mats in both rooms.

Clip the cords. Make sure cords from lights and decorations are secured, out of the way and don’t pose a falls risk. Pets and very young visitors will also appreciate this!

Light the way. Often, eyesight diminishes as we get older. Keep indoor rooms well-lit. Night lights in the hallway and in the bathroom are very helpful in helping your aging guest see where they are going.

Skip the slip. Ensure your outdoor areas are free from snow, ice or wet leaves and are well-lit. As the weather gets colder, slippery conditions pose serious falls risks.

Make sure the rug is snug. Tack or tape curled up edges of carpets to prevent falls, or eliminate them altogether; fabric throw rugs are especially very dangerous for people with mobility or vision issues.

Care about the chair. Provide your older guests with firm, comfortable seating. It is very difficult for some seniors to get out of low, soft, furniture or wobbly, folding chairs.