Your parents may be independent but everyday obstacles, like staircases, increase the risk of falls and missteps every time they need to go from one level of the home to another. This daily threat is so common that many don\’t even consider it – but forgetting about stair safety is one of the most dangerous mistakes a homeowner could make, especially with the progression of age or disability. This guide will detail the necessary steps to secure the staircase in the home of your aging parents so that they can enjoy their independence as long as possible. Each little change will add up to a much greater degree of safety.
Increasing Staircase Visibility
The easiest way to make a stairwell safer is to make the steps more visible. We suggest investing in brighter lighting, with a switch at the top and bottom. Eyesight tends to decrease with age, and weakened eyesight mixed with gloomy stairs is a recipe for disaster. New light fixtures are a very small investment compared to the cost of losing one\’s independence.
We also recommend making the landings a different color than the stairs themselves. There are several ways to do this: you could add non-slip treads to each of the stairs, install contrasting carpet at each landing, or use paint or reflective tape to mark the landings or treads. Consider the interior design preferences of your parents to make the transition more appealing.
Removing Mobility Barriers
Mobility barriers come in many forms. If there are doorways at the top or bottom of the stairs, have them removed or replaced with an automatic option. Doors become unsafe when used with full hands – and busy parents and grandparents always seem to have their hands full. Then again, carrying items and up and down the stairs is a distraction and decreases visibility, so consider installing a dumbwaiter to make carrying heavier items easier.
If climbing up the stairs is slow or painful for your aging parents, it might be time to start looking at stair lifts. Your parents will be able to sit in the stair lift and ride up the stairs at a reasonable speed, reducing the risk of falls and generally making life easier. Begin shopping or saving for a wheelchair lift if one or both of your parents is at risk for losing more of their mobility. Many wheelchair lifts operate just like stair lifts, but others are self-contained and operate more like an elevator.
Keeping Stair Safety in Mind at All Times
Getting rid of area rugs, installing slip-free carpet, and adding handrails on both sides of the stairwell will make the biggest difference when it comes to safety. These three investments are \”must-haves\” – if you can\’t afford to make any of the other changes in this guide, at least consider these. Your parents may not enjoy all the fuss over their safety, but anybody can appreciate stairs that are safer and easier to use. The changes may take some time to get used to but the result is well worth the effort. We hope that your aging parents enjoy their newly improved staircase, and we hope you enjoy the peace of mind that will accompany it.