Older people are often faced with the challenge of adapting to the changing physical demands of aging.
Some seniors struggle to accomplish daily tasks that were once easy, such as climbing stairs.
By investing in the right outside steps, elderly people can stay active and independent while enjoying their daily activities.
This article will discuss some of the benefits of installing outside steps and provide tips on how to choose the best option for your own home.
“What is needed for modifying stairs for the elderly? – The 5 main components to make stairs safer for senior citizens are:”
Senior Safety Advice
- making the steps non-slippery
- proper installation of handrails
- adaptive equipment as needed
- remove any clutter on the steps
How Do You Make Stairs Easier To Climb For The Elderly?
For some seniors, climbing stairs can be difficult due to limited mobility and balance issues.
However, stairs that have an existing trip hazard will increase fall risk in general for everyone. The first step is to make sure that all steps are properly designed and installed in order to prevent falls and other accidents.
Some of the ways you can improve stair safety is to include handrails or grab bars, using non-slip surfaces on each step, improving depth perception by adding color contrast to your step design, and making sure all steps are built to the proper height and width and local building codes.
These are all important factors to consider in order to follow best practices and decrease fall risks for everyone. Throw rugs should never be placed or glued to stairs treads.
I have seen this many times while working as a home health occupational therapist throughout my career. Unfortunately, steps leading to the front door are common place. This can also lead to an increased risk for falls not just for older people but for people of all ages.
How Do You Modify Stairs For Older Adults?
In addition to adding safety features, there are other ways to modify stairs for older adults.
Adding a stairlift can provide easy access to upper or lower floors, especially for someone using a mobility aid such as a walker or a wheelchair with less strain on the user.
If a full stair lift is not an option, consider installing chair lifts that move up and down each step. A wheelchair ramp with a properly built stair railing is also an option.
For new homes, talking to the builder and asking for a zero step entry will lower risk factors overall.
Patio steps or deck stairs that are wider and have a lower stair rise will benefit a person using a walker or a cane.
Providing overhead lighting at entry points will also increase safety. A smart home device such as motion sensor lighting for outdoor use will create a safe place for all users.
If needed, installing an elevator can also provide easy access for those who cannot use stairs.
Regardless of what modifications you make, be sure that all steps are built to proper safety guidelines and are clearly marked.
What Height Should Steps Be For Seniors?
For seniors, a general rule of thumb is that each step should not be more than six inches high.
High steps are more difficult to climb and will definitely increase a person’s risk of falling. Shorter steps with a riser height of four to six inches are ideal for providing extra stability and balance.
The tread width—the horizontal distance between the front and back of each step—should also be at least 11 inches wide.
This enables seniors to have a firm and comfortable footing when using the stairs. To provide additional balance support, handrails should be installed on both sides of the stairs and extend at least one foot beyond the top and bottom steps.
For those with mobility issues, installing a ramp may be a better option than having steps. Additionally, it is important that a non-slip surface be used for both steps and ramps.
This will help seniors maintain their footing when climbing or descending the stairs, reducing the risk of falls.
It is also important to consider lighting when designing stairs for seniors. Adequate lighting should be installed on each step so that they can properly see where they are stepping without putting extra strain on their vision. LED strip lighting is low cost, attractive, and easy to install.
If the step is any higher, it can be difficult for seniors to lift their feet high enough to climb the stairs safely.
Steps that are too short can also cause a tripping hazard as they may not provide enough depth for users to take multiple steps.
Finally, it’s important to consider any mobility devices or assistive devices that will be used when measuring the height of each step for a staircase designed for senior use.
In general, it is recommended that steps for seniors should have a rise (height from one step to the next) of between 4 and 6 inches with an 8-inch tread or depth.
This size provides enough surface area for seniors to get a good grip and balance while climbing the stairs.
Steps To Get Into A High Vehicle
Once you have decided on the design for your stairs, it is time to consider the best way to get into a high vehicle.
One of the most common methods used is by using a step ladder that can be securely attached to the side of your vehicle.
If you decide to use this method, make sure that you choose a ladder with wide, non-slip steps and secure handrails.
Another option to consider is using a step stool, platform, or even a portable ramp.
The key with any of these options is selecting one that is wide enough for the user’s feet and not too high so that they can still reach the top of the vehicle comfortably.
It is also important to make sure that the platform has a non-slip surface and carries enough weight for the user.
For those who have limited mobility, there are specialized steps or ramps available to buy.
Many of these feature adjustable lengths, widths and handrails that allow you to tailor your access solution specifically to your needs.
Finally, it is important to remember that regardless of the access solution you choose, you will also need to make sure you are wearing footwear with a good grip and taking necessary safety precautions when entering or exiting your vehicle.
If needed, always have another person there to help support you for extra stability and balance.
Following these steps should ensure that you have a safe and successful journey when getting into or out of your vehicle.
Low Rise Stairs For Seniors
Low rise stairs or half steps are an excellent solution for those who are looking to increase accessibility and safety in their home.
By providing a low-rise alternative to traditional staircases, this option provides a way for seniors to access their home without worrying about falls or other accidents.
With the wide range of sizes available, you can also find stairs that are either permanent or portable, making them an ideal solution for seniors who may need to move around the house.
Low rise stairs also come in a variety of materials and styles, so you can find one that fits your home’s decor while still providing dependable and comfortable access into or out of the home.
When installing low rise stairs, it is important to consider all aspects of safety. The stairs should have a sturdy handrail, and the treads should be slip-resistant.
It is also a good idea to add color contrast between the risers and treads and lighting. The handrail can also be painted a different color.
Adding a protective coating for heat resistance in warmer climates is also recommended.
Additionally, if you are installing a permanent staircase, make sure that it is securely anchored to the wall or floor to prevent any potential hazards.
Low rise stairs offer seniors an ideal solution for accessing their home while also providing a safe and comfortable way to navigate stairs.
The low rise design makes them easier to climb than taller staircases, allowing seniors who may have mobility issues to easily enter or exit their home or anyone for that matter.
With so many styles and materials available, they can also be ideal for anyone looking to add an attractive staircase to their home’s interior design.
What To Put On Outside Steps To Prevent Slipping?
One of the best ways to ensure that outside steps are safe and free from slipping is to provide some form of traction.
Non-slip stair treads or strips can be placed on any outdoor surface, such as concrete, stone, wood, metal, or composite material.
These treads are designed with a grippy surface pattern that will help to keep feet from slipping. For extra safety, also attach a handrail that runs along the side of the staircase.
In addition to stair treads, it might be wise to consider an outdoor sealant or coating for stairs that are made out of wood or metal.
This will help to protect them from moisture and further guard against slipping. If the steps are made out of concrete, consider taking advantage of a specialized anti-slip coating.
This type of product will help to reduce slipping by providing an extra layer of traction.
It is also important to keep outdoor stairs free from debris such as leaves, snow, and ice that can build up over time and make them slippery.
Clearing away these elements on a regular basis will help to maintain a safe walking surface.
Finally, adding a handrail that runs along the side of the staircase can greatly reduce the risk of slipping by giving people something to hold onto as they ascend and descend.
This is especially beneficial for those who might be unsteady when going up or down a staircase.
In conclusion, there are several ways to prevent slipping on outdoor steps.
Applying an anti-slip coating, keeping them free of debris, and installing a handrail can all help to keep people safe as they use the stairs.
Taking these measures will help create a safer environment for everyone who uses them.
Hire A Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist For Stair Remodel
A certified aging in place specialist (CAPS) is a professional who has been specifically trained to help seniors age in place safely and comfortably. Go to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) website for more information.
CAPS-certified professionals have the skills and knowledge to assess the unique needs of seniors and make recommendations for products and services that can help them live independently.
They also have a network of resources and contacts that they can connect seniors with, if needed.
If you or a loved one is interested in aging in place, please give me a call at 352-281-6681 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Working with a CAPS-certified professional can help ensure that your home is safe and comfortable, and that you have the resources and support you need to age independently.