Sharon and I have both blog about fall prevention in general but I want to get very specific….floor coverings such as mats and throw rugs are dangerous. Two questions. 1. Are these floor coverings in good condition or noticeably worn or torn? 2. Do the floor coverings bunch up or slide when you walk on them?
If you answered “yes” to either question the best advice we can give you is to get rid of those rugs or mats. If you can stand the thought of getting rid of grandma’s old throw rug or that cute fuzzy mat in the bathroom here are some suggestions from the National Association of Geriatric Care Managers and the International Rug Safety Insitute:
- Recognize surface changes from one room to another (i.e. carpet in living room to linoleum in the kitchen) can present balance issues.
- Purchase carpets, rugs, runners and mats with “slip resistant” backing or padding, remembering that such materials become less effective with repeated washings.
- Consider thick, cut-to-fit rubber shelf liner under a carpet.
- Carpets should be high density, low pile. If replaced, use the same color as previous carpeting to reduce likely visual disorientation. Recognize that color changes can visually cue the resident to the boundaries between surfaces. Note: bold patterns, and black on blue backgrounds can lead to misjudgments of spatial distances.
- If a new mobility devices is required (such as a cane or walker), assure the introduction to walking on various surfaces is well monitored. Older adults with delays in light/dark adaption, decreased contract sensitivity, poor depth perception or limited peripheral vision will also need more careful monitoring.
- If mats, scatter rugs or runner replacements are not possible due to financial constraints, etc., apply double-faced adhesive carpet tape or heavy duty masking tape (rolled around spread fingers five times) and secured around the edges of the rug or mat.
- Consider Press and Stick Rug Grippers (available at Lowes, Home Depot, local flooring and carpet outlets or Amazon). Press into each corner of the carpet. Recheck adhesive periodically and replace if you see a powdery substance that indicates deterioration.
- Choosing aesthetically pleasing carpets, rugs and runners that meet personal preference is always balanced against functional floor coverings that promote safe navigation.
Falling can be a lifetime game changer. Get a grip.