How To Make Your Yard Senior Safe

lawn chairs on grass

Updated 08/08/2017 2:00pm | Now that you’re retired, you have more time on your hands to spend how you choose. Whether you love getting your hands dirty or prefer to look from afar, your yard should be a sanctuary where you can feel safe and enjoy the outdoors. Getting your yard in shape will mean less maintenance, leaving more time for the fun stuff. Getting your yard prepped for your time at home means easier winters and summers down the road. 

 

Gardening Safety

herb plants on gradening table
  • Consider installing an accessible garden. Raised garden beds are a great idea if you love to garden. These versatile beds will reduce back pain and the risk of back injuries. Everyone can access them, including those in wheelchairs. Bonus: Animals such as dogs, rabbits, moles will not be able to destroy your garden!
  • Store gardening tools within easy reach. All tools should be easy to reach in flat-footed stance. This will help you keep your balance and prevent  injuries from reaching too far. Plus, an organized tool shed means you safe time searching for what you need.
  • Keep yard chemicals clearly labeled and dated. This will prevent possible mishaps from using the wrong bottle or using chemicals out of date. You don’t want to find that your garden has been killed if you accidentally use weed killer on your delicate flowers. 

Walkway Safety

walkway to one story house
  • Keep walkways level. If your walkways are uneven you have a greater risk for tripping and falling. Hire someone who can grind down a raised walkway and fill in holes.
  • Make sure walkways are clear. Keep your yard clear of debris and plant overgrowth, especially those that reach into walkways.  
  • Install plentiful lighting. Do you have enough light to see objects on the ground in your yard? Things like sprinklers, a hose, or lawn ornaments are easy to trip over in the dark.  Motion sensor lights are especially helpful. Light your front door to reduce time searching for the keyhole.

Home Entrance Safety

man riding down ramp in wheelchair
  • Install a ramp. If you have trouble climbing stairs, it is a good idea to replace the stairs leading up to your front door with a ramp. Make sure the ramp is easy walk up and not too steep.
  • Install handrails on ramp or stairs. Handrails are necessary for safely getting up and down ramps. Paint the rails contrasting color to ensure visibility, even in the snow. The rails should extend a foot beyond top and bottom so you can stabilize yourself on those last steps.
  • Install a curb on the ramp. Curbs on both sides of a ramp will prevent you falling off the side. 

Winter Safety

showling snow

If you live where it snows in the winter, you need to keep in mind these extra safety precautions. Snow and ice make it easy to slip and fall. Follow these tips to stay safe this winter.

  • Shovel steps and walkways. Keep walkways shoveled or even better: hire someone to shovel for you. Do not walk on icy or snowy sidewalks - always look for sidewalks that are dry and have been cleared.
  • Wear boots with non-skid soles. This is especially important in winter. You will be less likely to slip when you walk.
  • If you use a cane, replace the rubber tip before it is worn smooth. You might also buy (at a medical supply store) an ice pick-like attachment that fits onto the end of the cane to help keep you from slipping when you walk.

Remember These Tips

  • Pick up things correctly. Bend at knees, rather than the waist, to pick up items. Even items you may perceive as light may put strain on your back.  
  • Post no soliciting signs. This will minimize your trips to the door for unwanted sale pitches. No soliciting signs will also help prevent intruders.
  • Wear your medical alert pendant. Wear your pendant everywhere you go so you always have quick access to help. Your home medical alert system covers a range of about two football fields so you will stay protected both in your home and yard.
  • Aim to have a low or no maintenance yard. Who wants to spend all their time raking leaves and mowing the lawn? These tasks become increasingly difficult as we age. Plan ahead and invest in landscaping that is low-maintenance.
  • Have access to shoveling services in winter and yard maintenance in summer. If your yard does require a good amount of upkeep, make sure there are yard maintenance and snow shoveling services available in your area. Your local teenagers are a good resource.

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Stay Safe Outdoors

grandma_in

Your aging in place plan should include your yard as well as the inside of your home. Your safety should be a number one priority. When your home is ready to age in place, you will be ready to live retirement to the fullest, without worry. Get your garden and yard ready so that can spend your time doing what you love.

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