How to Make Outside Stairs Safer for the Elderly

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Falling on stairs can be a nightmare at any age, but it's a particular concern for the elderly. The good news is that it's easy to improve safety features to reduce the risk of falls. Many people make sure their indoor staircases are in good shape, but they forget about the outside stairs. Most of the safety concepts are the same for indoors and out: improving the lighting, repairing damage and increasing step visibility and traction.

Things You'll Need

  • New light fixtures
  • Outdoor paint
  • Nonskid paint or adhesive strips

How to Make Outside Stairs Safer for the Elderly

  • Hire an electrician or qualified handyman to increase the lighting in your outdoor stair area. You should have adequate lighting to see the edge of each step when you ascend and descend. Position the lighting fixtures to reduce shadows, and use the highest wattage allowable.

  • Make sure the stairs are even and in good shape. Repair or replace any damaged, loose or worn-down areas, and make sure no nails are sticking out.

  • Paint the edges of the steps with a color that contrasts with the rest of the stairway. If any of the steps is different from the other ones (higher, lower, wider or narrower), mark that step with a different color.

  • Reduce the chance of slipping by adding abrasive strips or rubber stair treads. You can also find deck paint that has a rough texture.

Tips & Warnings

  • You may love flowerpots and statues, but remove them from the outdoor stairway if they present a tripping hazard.
  • Seniors may grip the outdoor railing to keep their balance. Make sure it's in good shape and splinter free. If there is no railing, have one added.

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