COLUMN: Tips to Promote Home Safety for Older Oklahomans | News


The sweetness of the hearth. This is where people feel the most comfortable. However, as Oklahomans age, their homes may require modifications to keep residents safe.

Aging in place is really more than just aging – it can also be someone who is simply having difficulty moving around. This is important, especially in rural areas where assisted living options are not available.

Some projects that can increase the safety factor may only take a few hours, while others may involve a contractor.

One way to make the home more livable and safer for aging occupants is to install grab bars in high-risk areas where a slip or fall is more likely.

Just a little water on a tile or linoleum floor can be dangerous. Tubs and showers can also become slippery with soapy water. If there is enough space, consider using a shower seat. Coupled with a handheld shower head, this adds more stability for the bath.

Other options include installing a grab bar near the toilet for people who may have difficulty sitting down and getting up and placing another bar near the bed for similar reasons.

When installing grab bars, make sure they are screwed into wall studs, not just drywall. These bars are inexpensive and can be found at local hardware stores or ordered online at a variety of capacity stores.

Exterior ramps can be useful beyond wheelchair mobility needs. Steps can also become a real challenge for people standing.

People with mobility issues may have difficulty lifting their legs to navigate the porch stairs. A ramp makes it easier to get in and out of the house. Remember that ramps also need ramps or handrails. Another thing to consider is a threshold ramp for doors to provide a smooth surface transition from room to room.

Other home improvement tips to help with aging in place include: replacing round door handles with lever handles, installing a bathroom heater/lamp for elderly people who develop joint pain or problems regulating body heat, updating the floor and be aware that carpeting can be a major source of trips and falls. It is also easier to maneuver a wheelchair on a solid surface floor.

Other ideas include: adding bright lighting and sturdy handrails to either side of a staircase or stairlift, installing a turntable or lazy Susan in a cabinet to keep contents organized and easy to access , add a kitchen island or prep table at a comfortable height, attach wall hooks for easy access, and install pull-out shelves, which are more accessible than cabinets that require squatting or bending.

Making a few changes can help your loved ones stay in their homes longer, where they are happiest.

Anyone interested in participating in a program in the area of ​​family and consumer science, contact Heather Winn, family and consumer science educator at OSU Cooperative Extension Service in Cherokee County by phone at 918-456-6163 or email

Heather Winn is a Family and Consumer Science Educator for OSU’s Cooperative Extension Service in Cherokee County.


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