4 Simple Design Tips to Help Reduce Falls

grab barsDid you know that persons with dementia fall up to 3 times more often than individuals without cognitive impairments? In addition to age-related vision and mobility changes, dementia brings its own unique set of challenges that increase fall risk. Sometimes it can be overwhelming trying to figure out ways to keep your loved one safe. But don’t give up! There is a lot you can do that can really make a difference.

Here are 4 tips that can help reduce falls:

1. Boost the lighting, especially at night. If the person is sensitive to light at night, choose easy-on-the-eyes blue or green LED nightlights. If there is no outlet, use a motion activated nightlight as show in the photo to the right.Sensor night light

2. Use bright contrasting colors to overcome dementia-related problems with depth perception. For example, paint a 2” strip of bright paint or use a bright colored tape on a shower curb or step edges so each step doesn’t blur into the next.

3. Be bathing safe. Use a bath mat inside the tub and a bath chair. Install grab bars into the walls (no suction cup grab bars, as they can fall off). Use a low pile bath floor mat with non-skid backing (no flimsy floor mats that can “bunch up”).
bath mat outside

4. Be flooring safe. Remove doorsills, area carpets, and clutter from walkways. If removing clutter causes distress (which it often does) then just reorganize the clutter into baskets or plastic crates so it doesn’t get underfoot.

You can’t stop all falls from occurring, but sometimes a few simple changes can make a big difference.

I'm an interior designer, gerontologist, author, blogger, and most importantly, a former caregiver to my mother, Arlene, who had Alzheimer's disease.
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5 Responses to 4 Simple Design Tips to Help Reduce Falls

  1. Roslyn says:

    I love ThisCaringHome. Thank you for all that you do. And some of your recommendations are easy and don’t cost much at all. My husband was starting to trip on the shower curb and I used your suggestion of putting a bright colored tape on the curb’s edge (I bought bright yellow electrical tape at my local hardware store). It really helped. So simple and it cost $3.00. Thank you!!

  2. Sandy says:

    One of the best things I did to help Jake was to remove the door sills in between our rooms. Jake’s walker kept bumping against them and I knew a fall was just around the corner. And it wasn’t hard to do. I feel less stressed as I don’t have to worry anymore about Jake taking a fall. He just sails through the rooms now as there is nothing for him to trip on.

  3. Phoebe says:

    I am starting to get frustrated with my Dad’s untidiness. Is it because he is lazy or is it part of his illness? He has Stage 1 dementia.

  4. Candace says:

    What I find interesting about this blog, Rosemary, is that many of your suggestions/ideas are not only applicable to the Elders with Dementia but also for the typical aging community. I like the idea of grab bars and LED night lights! Thank you, this is so helpful

  5. Mary Rose says:

    Great site and great blog! I tried regular night lights for my mother but she doesn’t like them. Said they kept her awake. So after reading this blog, I got her the colored LED plug in night lights – she loved the blue color and said it was pretty! And so far no complaints about it being bright.

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