The summertime is in full swing! That means that your family members, friends and neighbours are spending a lot more time outdoors. No matter your age, getting outside to enjoy the warmth and sunshine is a favourite pastime of the season. However, for older adults, it’s imperative that they are mindful of the unique challenges that come with navigating outdoor spaces.
As a homeowner, it’s important that you consider some thoughtful safety measures. Especially if you live with an elderly loved one, it’s wise to make the outside of your home senior-friendly.
Keep all pathways and walkways clear of any obstacles.
Regularly inspect the paths for cracks, uneven surfaces or loose pavers. They are all potential tripping hazards. Ensure that any loose stones or debris are promptly removed. Consider using non-slip materials to enhance traction, especially in areas prone to wet or icy conditions. Proper outdoor lighting is equally essential to illuminate paths at night. They will help to reduce the risk of falls and provide a sense of security for the senior in your life.
“Be sure to trim any branches from trees or bushes that are creeping over or onto the pathway,” recommends Melyssa Cleary of Wisconsin’s HandiTreads, “This always goes for any moss that may be growing in between brick or stone walkways. As the moss grows, it can form a raised mound that is easily tripped over.”
Install sturdy handrails and grab bars.
These assistive devices should be placed along outdoor staircases, ramps and even near entrances. They offer essential support while navigating uneven surfaces and inclines, reducing the risk of slips and falls. Make sure the handrails are secured tightly to the wall or railing. As well, be sure they are made from materials that are weather-resistant and easy to grip.
Eliminate slippery surfaces.
Slippery surfaces, such as decks, patios and driveways, can pose significant hazards for seniors. Consider applying slip-resistant coatings to these surfaces to improve traction. As well, during icy conditions, use non-toxic ice melt products to prevent slippery patches from forming on walkways.
“Non-slip paint or similar treatments create traction on a porch or deck with an aggregate in the paint,” informs Cleary, “Since the paint covers the entire surface, there is slip and fall protection from all directions. However, if the paint is covered by ice, snow, or debris, the paint’s effectiveness drastically decreases.”
Create comfortable and strategically placed seating areas.
Set up chairs in the garden or on the patio. They will allow seniors to take breaks during walks and enjoy the outdoors at their own paces. Ensure that the seats have backrests and armrests for extra support. Also, consider providing shade or a canopy to protect them from the sun’s harsh rays.
Install a porch lift.
Does your elderly loved one require a mobility solution such as a wheelchair, walker or scooter to get around? If so, installing a porch lift will ensure that he/she has safe and easy access to the entrance of your home. Also known as a vertical platform lift, a porch lift is an indoor or outdoor residential elevating lift that provides efficient and easy access to a raised deck, porch or even steps within your home.