Are Throw Rugs Safe in a Senior’s Home?

What is a throw rug?

Throw rugs are small decorative floor coverings that do not extend to be the size of the room. Rather, these rugs are quite small and can easily be moved or relocated. 

They can be made into different shapes, sizes and built with different materials. They can even offer some comfort to one’s feet if made with soft feeling fabric or wool. 

More often than not, throw rugs are usually located in the home to offer a sense of design and expression of one self or one’s tastes.

What makes a throw rug dangerous for a senior?

Throw rugs by their nature are small in size, which makes them easy to move or shift. As seniors age, they tend to have greater mobility difficulties or shuffling gait. 

This places them at risk of catching the rug on their feet or shoes as they move across it. Should a throw rug start to buckle and folds onto itself, a senior may trip over it and fall.

Throw rugs can have frills and a non-gripping back. This can make them easy to shift and move, which can put someone at an increased risk of falling through slips and trips.

Falls are one of the leading reasons for senior hospital admissions due to injuries which often result in permanent disabilities or death. As a result, many senior home safety experts suggest against throw rugs as they increase the risk of seniors having falls.

Can throw rugs be more dangerous in certain locations within the home?

Experts agree that throw rugs in general are dangerous to have within a senior’s home. Having an unsecured surface that can slide is especially dangerous on any surface that is frequently walked on or used.

Climbing stairs is already a difficult task requiring lots of muscle strength and coordination. Combine this with having a throw rug on a narrow landing or steps can contribute to feeling unsure of one’s footing and may be a recipe for disaster.

A better alternative for steps would be to have thin anti slip stair treads which can be used to prevent slipping. The textured surface is either taped or secured in place with adhesive to provide additional grip to anyone stepping on it. This can be used to prevent one’s foot from sliding or losing balance as one ascends or descends the stairs.

Can throw rugs be made more safe?

There are ways to make a throw rug grip onto the floor better and reduce its ability to slip and shift positions. By placing anti-slip pads and underlays under the rug, they help to stop the rug from shifting as one walks on it. Keeping it in the position where it was originally placed helps to keep the walking pathways clear.

As well, throw rugs should be kept as flat as possible to reduce the risk of tripping for those with shuffling gait. By having a low profile, it allowed people to more easily step onto and step off the rug.

At the very least, experts suggest that rugs be placed off to the side or in a corner that is not normally walked on. This reduces the frequency at which one exposes themselves to the risk of falling if the rug is not walked around.

Health factors that may warrant the removal of throw rugs from the home

Generally a home can be made more safe by removing small area rugs. Some risk factors that may take a throw rug dangerous includes:

  • Previous falls – this makes someone at risk of having more falls
  • Trouble with walking or shuffling gait – difficulty with moving across a surface can lead to someone tripping on a throw rug
  • Indoor wheelchair user – wheels moving across poorly secured throw rugs can become blocked and unable to move easily
  • Foot drop or peripheral neuropathy – the inability to sense one’s foot position can be a factor contributing to falls when stepping over or onto a throw rug
  • Advanced diabetes – can lead to a loss of sensation in one’s lower extremities which can affect how one positions their feet as they move across a throw rug
  • Visual impairments – a possible inability to see the throw rug can affect how one judges where to place their feet during walking and can lead to a fall

How do you talk to a senior about the dangers of a throw rug?

Injuries from falls often result in permanent disability and admission to nursing home care is sometimes required for help to maintain one’s personal care activities and dignity. To reduce the fall risks within a senior’s home, one must discuss throw rugs

Should a senior wish to continue keeping a throw rug in their home, the risks of this decision must be highlighted to ensure that they are well aware of the risks they may be placing themselves at. 

One good compromise would be to have the rug pushed off to the side where people do not walk along. This strategy could be used to decrease the risks of trips and falls. 

Overall, throw rugs can increase a senior’s risk of falling. Thinking about where throw rugs are placed can minimize this risk, however experts generally advise to have scatter rugs removed as an important step towards a successful aging in place strategy.