How To Make Stairs Safer At Home AskSAMIE

How To Make Stairs Safer At Home

 Did you know that thousands of people are injured on stairs every year? For older adults and those with a disability, stairs not only pose a daily challenge but also a significant risk. The bad thing is it's not just about the fall. The fear of falling has been proven to be almost as limiting. Research shows that an increased fear of falling also increases the risk of falling!

 The aim of this article is to shed light on various adaptive equipment and modifications that can make stairs safer at home, reducing the likelihood of accidents and enhancing the quality of life for everyone.

 

Key Takeaways:

  • Stair-related accidents are a significant concern, especially for older adults and individuals with a disability.
  • There are effective products that can enhance stair safety at home.
  • There are effective strategies that can significantly reduce the risks that may not require purchasing something new.

 

The Importance of Stair Safety

Unsafe stairs are a hazard lurking in plain sight, contributing to over 1 million emergency room visits yearly in the US, per a 23-year-long study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). For older adults, the risk is even greater, turning what we often consider to be a simple task into a potential danger zone. Providing stair safety is crucial, not only to prevent accidents but to promote independence and confidence in mobility.

 So let's dive in to some easy ways to make the situation safer and more accessible.

Non-Slip Treads

Clear non-slip treads on AskSAMIE.com

One of the simplest yet most effective ways to enhance stair safety is through the installation of non-slip treads. These treads increase friction, significantly reducing the risk of slips and falls. Available in various colors, these adhesive tapes, they can be chosen to suit the home's aesthetics without compromising on safety.

 One question I always get asked is what should we do if the stairs are carpeted? Nail down metal stair treads like this to create contrast and a non-slip surface at the same time. Proper installation is key—whether you opt for self-adhesive options for a quick fix or more permanent solutions for long-term safety.

Handrails and Grab Bars

24" Grab Bar on AskSAMIE.com

Sturdy handrails are a must-have for stair safety, offering support and stability for anyone using the stairs. Installing additional grab bars can further enhance safety, providing extra points of support where needed. When choosing handrails and grab bars, consider the user's grip strength and height to make sure they are both functional and accessible.

Stairlifts

For those who find stairs a considerable challenge, stairlifts offer a practical and safe solution. Whether your home has straight or curved stairs, there's a stair

lift designed to fit. With features ranging from foldable seats to remote control operation, stairlifts can be customized to meet individual needs.

 

While the initial cost may seem high, the benefits of independence and safety they provide are invaluable. For example, a stairlift for a straight set of stairs can range between $3,500 and $5,000 installed. But just one month in assisted living averages $6,000 in the US. If adding a stair lift holds off moving into assisted living for even one more month, it's already a worthwhile investment. Plus, many stairlift providers offer refurbished stair lifts - so be sure to ask!

Mobile Stair Chair

Mobi EZ Eco Battery Stair Chair on AskSAMIE.com

If investing in a stair lift is just not possible and there's always a capable helper available, you might consider a stair chair. This mobile device is essentially a wheelchair that climbs the stairs! It's great for split-level homes where a custom stairlift or 2 straight stair lifts would be required. It's also great because it fits in the trunk of the car so any place with stairs is now accessible. It does weigh about 60 pounds, so it requires someone to help that can handle that. But at a price point almost half that of a stair lift is a great option in the right situation.

Ramps Over Stairs

In some cases, replacing stairs with a ramp may be the most effective solution, especially for wheelchair users. Ramps can be designed to be both portable and permanent, with materials chosen based on the specific needs and environment. Careful consideration should be given to slope and surface to guarantee safety and ease of use. We recommend no more than a 1 inch rise to 1.5 feet of ramp ratio. For help with planning a ramp, schedule a virtual visit so one of our occupational therapists can guide you.

Lighting Solutions

Adequate lighting can significantly reduce the risk of stair-related accidents by making sure each step is clearly visible. Some simple tricks are to leave a light on at night that can provide light to inside and outside stairs without keeping you awake.

 If you don't have a lighting solution that works, consider adding Motion sensor lights and LED stair lights as excellent options for providing the necessary illumination without the need for manual switches. These lighting solutions aren't only practical but can also be integrated aesthetically into the home's design.

Safety Gates

We're used to having safety gates in homes with young children or pets. But safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs can prevent falls when low vision or dementia are a part of the scenario. Choosing gates that are sturdy and securely mounted is essential for effective protection.

Conclusion

Making stairs safer at home involves a combination of the right products, thoughtful installation, and ongoing awareness of the risks they pose. Whether through the simple addition of non-slip treads, the installation of a stairlift, or improving lighting, each measure plays a crucial role in preventing accidents. If you're unsure about the best solutions for your home, AskSAMIE is here to help. Together, we can guarantee that your stairs aren't just a means to an end but a safe passage for everyone in your home.

Back to blog

Dr. Brandy Archie, OTR/L, CLIPP

Dr. Archie received her doctorate in occupational therapy from Creighton University. She is certified in both Living in Place and Low Vision Therapy.  Dr. Archie has over 15 years of experience in home health and elder focused practice settings which led her to start AskSAMIE, a curated marketplace to make aging in place possible for anyone, anywhere! Answer some questions about the problems the person is having and then a personalized cart of adaptive equipment and resources is provided.

She's a wife, mother of 3 and a die-hard Kansas City Chiefs fan! Connect with her on Linked In or by email anytime.

Want more helpful articles?

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter with helpful hints for caring for a loved one, new problem solving products and discounts on services you need!