Retirees spend more time at home than most people. As a result, their living rooms get a lot of use--but they can be littered with hazards.
Here are a few ideas on how to create a comfortable living area while still prioritizing senior safety.
Problem: A cluttered room can be hazardous for seniors; it's easy to trip on slick magazines left on the floor, for example. Lit cigarettes can fall onto papers, carpet or upholstery, starting a hazardous fire.
Senior Safety Solutions: Clean up the clutter and regularly discard or recycle old papers and magazines. Consider buying a cordless phone for the home to minimize the risk of tripping on a phone cord. Smokers should use large, deep ashtrays, so cigarettes don't fall out and start a fire.
Problem: That big old cushy sofa is a great place to watch TV or doze off. But getting up can be a challenge for seniors with poor mobility.
Senior Safety Solutions: Replace mushy or sagging cushions and furniture with firmer pieces, first making sure seniors can easily sit and rise in them. Avoid pieces with long seats, which often lack back support and don't allow people's legs to bend easily. When seated, seniors' upper legs should be parallel to the floor. For the greatest comfort, furniture seats should be 17 to 18 inches from the floor.
Problem: While carpet keeps feet and floors warm while reducing noise, old or untended carpet can cause people to trip. People with poor or failing vision may not see threadbare spots or bunched sections of carpeting, increasing their risk of injury.
Senior Safety Solutions: Examine carpeting for anything creating an uneven surface, including subtle bunching, pulling and creases--as well as worn spots. High-traffic areas, such as hallways and entryways, usually wear out first. Examine seams to be sure they're flush. Shag carpeting can catch toes. Berber carpeting, which is relatively flat, is a better choice.
Problem: As adults age, their eyes take longer to focus and many have difficulty seeing. Brighter lights are easier on the eyes, but ultra-hot halogen lamps--popular for their inexpensiveness and brightness--aren't the best choice, due to fire-hazard potential.
Senior Safety Solutions: Opt instead for ceiling-mounted spotlights or track lighting, which have two advantages. First, their beam can be focused where needed, such as above a favorite easy chair for reading, and second, they don't have wires or cords to clutter the room. Pairing them with a voice-activated light switch is also a good idea.
Updated from an earlier version on realtor.com(r) written by June Bell.