Safe Proofing your Home – The Entrance Way

Each year 36 million older adults fall, and falls are the leading cause of injury and fatal injuries in adults 65 or older. Several factors put you at increased risk for falling as you age, but one often overlooked aspect is hazards in your home. At Assured Allies, we are passionate about helping people age with dignity, choice, and independence in the place they call home. Thus, it is important that you know what to look for and how to make your home the safest place it can be. This blog series will take you step by step through different areas of your home and highlight ways you can make your home a safer place for you to age independently. 

The first spotlight in this series is the entrance to your home. Access to your home is one of the most critical areas to consider when looking at ways to make or keep your home safer. Areas to consider: 

  • Path to Main Entrance 

The path to the entrance of your home should be clear of cracks, loose bricks, debris, and/or landscaping, and it should be at least 36 inches wide to accommodate assistive mobility devices such as wheelchairs and walkers. 

  • Threshold:

It’s best to have at least one no-step entrance into your home. Your threshold should be a maximum of a half-inch high. Where possible, install no-step thresholds or threshold ramps.

  • Stairs

If you do need to navigate stairs to enter your home, install sturdy handrails on both sides. Ensure the depth of the stairs is deep enough to fit your whole foot and the stairway’s width is wide enough for assistive mobility devices. 

  • Ramp/Lift

If stairs become too difficult to manage, you might want to consider having a ramp or lift installed. Be sure to work with a professional and check with your town/city to ensure you don’t need any building permits. 

  • Doorway

The width of your doorway to your home should measure at least 32 inches wide. However, doorways that measure 36 inches are the most ideal. Hire a professional to widen your doorways or to install swing clear hinges to make your doorway wider.

  • Lighting

Make sure you have good lighting throughout the pathway to your entrance and at your entrance door. Motion sensor lights can be beneficial to ensure that lights are always on when you need them.

  • Surface

Slick surfaces increase your risk of falling. Install tread, anti-slip paint, or grip tape to stairs and entryway pathways to make these surfaces safer. If you live in an area prone to ice and snow, be sure to have your pathways cleared and use salt to help de-ice your entrance and pathways.

  • Other Things to Consider

Ensure that door hardware such as locks, handles, and peepholes are easy for you to use and placed in accessible places. Have a covered landing at your doorway to provide a surface that is flat and protected from the elements, and add a stool or table on the covered landing to give you an area to place items.

We always recommend you work with qualified professionals when making any modifications or changes to your home. Ensure that all work done to your home is done by an experienced and licensed contractor. Additionally, occupational therapists (OTs) can help evaluate your home and identify modifications and changes specific to your needs. When possible we recommend working with a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) professional. These individuals are usually contractors, OT’s or other professionals who are specifically trained to assess homes and make recommendations/modifications for aging in place.  

Stay safe and stay healthy.

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Katelynn Dornbusch, OTD, OTR/L
Katelynn is a registered occupational therapist. She graduated from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis with her doctorate in occupational therapy in 2018. As an Ally with Assured Allies, she is working directly with members to help them remain independent and meet their goals as they age.