Making the Stairs a Safe Place For Seniors

As a way to improve safety and reduce the risk of falls among seniors, most experts recommend finding ways to make the stairs safer. Of course all areas of the home should be addressed, but the stairs frequently present the biggest danger to a senior. Falls on the stairs can be quite serious, so finding ways to prevent them, while still allowing full access to a home is imperative.

One of the first steps to making the stairs safe is to fully check and evaluate the overall state of the stairs. Many falls are caused by staircases that are not safe, so determining the safety of the actual staircase is very important.

One of the most important things to consider is the evenness of the stairs. Many older staircases might have slight differences between the height of the individual steps. There may also be differences in the surface area of the different steps. You generally want the steps to be at least 11 inches deep, and again check if the steps depth is even.

As well as the dimensions of the steps, it is important to consider their condition. If the steps are slanted or loose, this can increase the risk of a fall. Also extremely slippery steps can be dangerous, which is made even more dangerous if they are in an area where they might become wet. For outdoor steps, you want to make certain you have a good gutter system in place, so water from the roof does not drain directly onto the staircase.

A proper handrail system is also very important. These not only allow extra support as an individual is climbing the stairs, but they also provide a place that can be grabbed as a senior is falling, to hopefully stop them from falling. Loose banisters or banisters that are too big to be easily grabbed can also make using the stairs much more dangerous.

A good rule of thumb is that the banister should be no more than 6.25 inches around. This allows it to be easily grabbed by most individuals. You also want to avoid rough or sharp banisters, which might be painful to use. If possible a two banister system is the best choice.

The safety of the stairs is one major consideration and fixing problem areas can greatly reduce the risk of a fall. It is also very important to evaluate the senior’s ability to use the stairs. Many times, due to arthritis or some other mobility related disease, using the stairs might not be possible. It could be painful, or in the case of those affected by cognitive disorders, it might not be possible for the senior to retain their balance as the ascend or descend the stairs.

Stair lifts are usually used in cases where the senior is unable to use the stairs. Stair lifts are medical devices that can be installed directly to the stairs and are used to carry the senior up or down the stairs. This eliminates for the senior to actually climb the stairs on their own and can tremendously reduce the risk of a fall.

It is also very important to consider other areas of the home that might be dangerous. Loose rugs, wet floors, and improper lighting are all factors that can increase the risk of a fall.