There comes a time to reassess your home for changes that
would mean increased safety and independence. 
Whether you are redesigning for yourself or for and aging family member,
consider the physical and mental changes that are a natural part of the aging
process.  Then plan with those changes in
mind.  For example, flooring, an
important decorative element, is also a very important component for accessibility
and safety.  Here are some things to

Flooring Choices

Changes in flooring thickness require adjustments in gait
that may cause hazards.

  • It is
         best to use the same flooring throughout as much of the home as
         possible.  Some experts recommend
         low pile carpeting, even in the bathroom. 
         It softens falls and offers slip resistance, particularly in wet
         areas like the bathroom and kitchen. 
         Avoid thick carpeting because it is harder to maintain and it
         causes too much drag on wheelchairs, walkers or canes.
  • Eliminate
         throw rugs, area rugs and scatter rugs. 
         If you must use them, at least use a non-slip backing underneath to
         make them more secure.  Replace worn
         carpeting especially when it is frayed or has seams that have lifted.

Color and Pattern

  • Contrasting
         colors create the illusion of differences in height, possibly providing a
         warning when the depth difference is real or creating a tripping hazard
         when it isn’t.  Shiny floors could
         appear slippery or disturb depth perception, making walking on these
         surfaces uncomfortable and unsteady. 
         In addition, natural light from a window can cause glare on the
         shiny surface, making it difficult to see and navigate safely.
  • Colors
         should be calming, rather than bright, preferably contrasting with the
         walls and molding to help prevent unnecessary bumps.

Clear Pathways

In addition to hallways, every room has a path that is
traveled frequently.

  • Safety experts remind us
         to keep electric cords close to the wall and to remove small clutter from
         underfoot.  Clutter can also include
         large items that could be bumped into, like hampers, magazine racks,
         planters, hassocks, coffee tables and wastebaskets.
  • If the furniture by the
         path could present a hazard, rearrange the room.  Furniture is sometimes used for support
         along the way, so be sure to relocate chairs that rock or swivel and
         furniture on wheels.  Lightweight
         dining chairs and standing lamps should not be relied on to assist with
         balance.  Padded furniture will
         provide more cushioning in the event of a fall.
  • Remove or pad bumping
         hazards.  While concentrating on
         moving from here to there, it is easy to miss things that protrude such as
         coat hooks, door handles, counter and cabinet edges, shelves, misplaced
         towel bars and grab bars.  Replace
         worn magnet closure mechanisms for cabinets so they stay closed.

you would like more information about “Safety
Starts with the Floors”
call the Senior LinkAge Line® at 1-800-333-2433.  The Senior LinkAge Line®: A One
Stop Shop for Minnesota Seniors is a free statewide service of the Minnesota
Board on Aging and Area Agencies on Aging.  Specialists provide one-to-one
assistance with helping older adults age well and live well.  Call
1-800-333-2433 for assistance Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 4:30pm or
chat with a specialist online during these hours at®.

“Our Mission is to identify and promote resources which enhance, empower and enrich seniors to be healthy, safe, and engaged citzens”



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