Make Your Stairs Safer for Elderly Relatives – Here’s How! (2023)

IN THIS POST:
Handrails
Non-Slip Edges
Lighting
Obstacle-Free Paths
Colour Contrasts
Non-Slip Footwear
Simple Design
Smaller Rise
Resting Spots
Wheelchair Ramp
Stair Lift

Steep or long staircases can be a fall hazard for elderly relatives in your family, especially if they suffer from conditions like dementia, osteoporosis, arthritis, or impaired vision. Falling in old age can also lead to severe internal injuries, broken bones, and other complications. If moving to a single-storey home isn’t an option, then you can easily get safer stairs for the elderly by making small modifications using the tips we’ll be sharing in this post.

Safer Stairs for the Elderly – How to Make It Happen?

Want to make the stairs safer for the elderly? Here are some adjustments that you can make for elderly-friendly staircases:

  • Handrails
  • Non-Slip Edges
  • Lighting
  • Obstacle-Free Paths
  • Colour Contrasts
  • Non-Slip Footwear
  • Simple Design
  • Smaller Rise
  • Resting Spots
  • Wheelchair Ramp
  • Stair Lift

Let’s cover each of these methods to make stairs safer for senior citizens in detail below. Please note that the first few of these are small modifications but we’ll discuss major renovations or purchases as we move down the list.

Handrails

Make Your Stairs Safer for Elderly Relatives – Here’s How! (1)

If you want to make stairs safer for senior citizens, let’s start with the most obvious solution. Install handrails on both sides of the staircase, especially if you have a curved design with wedge-shaped steps that can be a trip hazard. Railings should be added to the stairs at least on the outer edge, even in simpler designs. Guardrails not only prevent seniors from falling but can also provide them with the stable support they need to climb up a flight of stairs.

For an elderly-friendly home, handrails should be provided in continuity from the first to the last step, without any breaks and should be easy to get a firm grip on. all of the railings should also be securely fixed with no wiggle room.

Non-Slip Edges

Staircases made from marble, glass, tiles, or polished wood can be slippery. If you fear for the safety of your elderly, it is best to install strips of non-slip or anti-slip tape at the edges of the treads. This not only helps senior citizens determine the edge of every step when they are walking down the stairs but will also prevent their foot from slipping off the edge accidentally.

Lighting

Make Your Stairs Safer for Elderly Relatives – Here’s How! (2)

Vision impairment, especially at night, is pretty common, as we grow older. Most senior citizens also have a hard time with depth perception. Thus, it is imperative that if you have your parents, grandparents, or elderly aunts or uncles living at your place, you need to install nightlights in all parts of the house that they might need access to. This includes the route to the bathroom and the kitchen for a drink of water. If you have a multi-storey home, adding lights to the stairs is a crucial part of making the home safer for senior citizens.

Stairs that aren’t well lit can be a trip hazard for almost anyone of any age, which is why you should consider installing a wall or ceiling light that can be switched on before going up or down the stairs. Alternatively, LED lights have made illuminating your home easier than ever. Simply buy a strip of LED bulbs from your local hardware store and cut the strips to the desired length before sticking them under each step for a clear path down the stairs.

Obstacle-Free Paths

We’ve mentioned how the route to the bathroom and the kitchen should always be illuminated if your elderly relatives want to relieve themselves or have a drink of water in the night. Aside from lighting up their path, it is also important to ensure that the route is as straight as possible and completely free of obstacles and hurdles. This becomes extremely important when the route requires them to climb up or down the stairs in the night.

Ensure that you clear up all of the children’s toys before heading to bed and that there are no stray wires that may become a trip hazard. A simple trip can become a dangerous fall if it happens near the stairs and the senior citizen is unable to stop their momentum. You should also avoid placing soft and flimsy rugs or carpets on all such routes around the house, including the top and bottom of the stairs.

Colour Contrasts

Make Your Stairs Safer for Elderly Relatives – Here’s How! (3)

Want to make each step more visible for your elderly parents or grandparents with a creative touch? Paint each step or tread a different colour. This reduces the risk of falling down the stairs in aged people as they’ll have a better understanding of where each step ends and the other begins. You can alternate between light and dark tones, or use a rainbow of colours as per your design and styling needs.

Non-Slip Footwear

Not exactly a home décor tip but wearing the right slippers can prevent falls and injuries. Provide your elderly relatives with rubber-soled slippers to wear around the house if they don’t prefer walking around the house barefoot. The right footwear that grips the surface improves mobility problems. Don’t let your ageing parents walk around the house wearing socks though, as socks can surely result in slips due to their smooth texture.

Simple Design

Make Your Stairs Safer for Elderly Relatives – Here’s How! (4)

If you are building your home, there are several staircase styles and designs that you can consider. However, to keep the design senior-friendly, opt for the simplest design options. Consider adding multiple flights of stairs rather than a straight stair if you have exceptionally high ceilings. Moreover, opt for a U-shaped or L-shaped staircase as these are easier to navigate in comparison to winding, curved, or spiral staircases. It is also important to avoid floating staircases because it can be hard for the elderly to perceive the open space between steps, and misplaced footing can result in severe injuries and confusion.

Smaller Rise

It’s a lot easier to modify the staircase when you’re building your home, but you can consider making changes during a home renovation project as well. One of the modifications you can consider to get safer stairs for seniors if lowering the rise or height of each step, which might mean climbing more steps or flights of stairs, but will be a lot easier on the knees as your elderly relatives will not have to raise their legs as high as the standard rise to climb up to the next floor. Here’s how to design a staircase for your home.

Resting Spots

Make Your Stairs Safer for Elderly Relatives – Here’s How! (5)

Another senior-friendly staircase design idea includes adding a small seating/resting area after each flight of stairs. This is only possible in U-shaped or L-shaped staircases though. You can easily place an ottoman or bench on the bend for senior citizens to catch their breath before they climb up again.

Wheelchair Ramp

Ideal for short flights of steps at the front of the house, a wheelchair ramp makes it fairly easy to bring your elderly family members indoors if they are unable to climb up the stairs. While this method cannot be used indoors to move between different floors, many luxurious residences also choose to install an elevator within the house to facilitate movement between floors for all members of the family.

Stair Lift

Make Your Stairs Safer for Elderly Relatives – Here’s How! (6)

Despite all of the above methods and tricks to make the stairs safer, there comes a time when climbing even a few steps is hard on senior citizens. If moving to a single-storey home is not an option, consider moving the elderly person’s bedroom downstairs so that they do not need to climb up and down during the day. Alternatively, you can move to an apartment with a 24/7 power backup and an elevator, which will surely be quite convenient in the long run.

If you plan on staying in your current home for long, consider installing a stair lift for your ageing family members who are having a hard time with the stairs. Stair lifts can be fitted onto stairs on any height and design. The mechanism includes a chair that is fitted onto a thick rail that is fixed in place against the handrail. It moves up and down automatically at the touch of a button. Many designs also offer portable footrests, and some stair lifts as completely foldable along the wall or railing until needed, taking up minimum space on the stairway.

Now you know how to design staircases for senior citizens in case of a home renovation and how to get safer stairs for the elderly using simple hacks as well. Along with these hacks, you also need to help your elderly relatives remain calm and patient as they walk up and down the stairs and communicate the importance of taking only one step at a time, no matter how urgently they want to reach the next floor.

You can also check out more tips on how to design a house that is fit for senior citizens, as well as how to make a bathroom safer for the elderly. Keep reading Zameen Blog for more design and décor tips. You can also send us your comments on the post at blog@zameen.com.

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