|It all starts with a fall.|
For older adults, a slip and fall can have a devastating effect on their quality of life, threatening their safety and independence as much as their health. Nonfatal falls pose a serious challenge to older adults. Every 13 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 20 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even the fear of falling can impact a loved one’s quality of life as they may restrict activities and social engagements due to this fear. Activity restrictions can worsen physical decline, increase depression, and lead to feelings of helplessness.
Bathrooms & Stairs are the worst.
Are you worried about a loved one’s safety at home? Three out of five falls affecting seniors happen at home, according to NIH Senior Health, with many falls happening in the bathroom and on the stairs.
|Falls do not have to be an inevitable part of aging.|
Through practical lifestyle adjustments and the addition of simple, at-home safety features, you and other caregivers can reduce the likelihood that a loved one suffers a slip and fall. Here’s how to fall-proof your senior’s home:
- Remove floor hazards. Decorative rugs may look nice, but they are far too easy to trip over. Remove all rugs, especially those at the bottom and tops of stairs, which pose a serious fall hazard. Add non-slip strips or rubber mats to the floor of the bathroom, mudroom/laundry room, and other areas of the home where floors are most likely to be slick and wet. If your loved one does not currently have an in home health care provider, talk to your loved one about the importance of promptly cleaning up all spills or reaching out to a friend or neighbor for assistance.
|Security pole with optional curve grab bar.|
- Install mobility aids. The bathroom is a top spot for falls, especially for older adults who may struggle to get in and out of raised bathtubs or slip on wet floors. Adding handrails along the shower, a raised toilet seat with an armrest, and a tub cutout makes it easier for older adults to balance when using the shower or toilet. There are many helpful mobility aids which do not require any installation.
- Improve lighting. Dim lighting can obscure floor hazards and increase the likelihood for an accidental trip and fall. All rooms need a main lighting source that can be illuminated with a single switch at the room’s entry point, rather than requiring older adults to search for a lamp in the middle of a dark room. Use the highest wattage light bulb for every light fixture. Good stairway lighting is essential and should be controlled by switches at both the top and bottom of the stairs. Add nightlights to the bathroom, bedroom, hallways and kitchen for nighttime illumination. Finally, be sure that your loved one sleeps with a flashlight by his or her bed in case the power goes out at night.
- Make objects easier to reach. Re-arranging often-used items in your loved one’s home will make these objects more accessible and reduce the risk for falls. Move shoes and clothing accessories down from higher closet shelves, and place cans, dishes, and grocery items at arm’s reach. Your loved one should never need to stand on a stool in order to reach something! If you are worried about a loved one falling while reaching for an item, talk to an in home health care professional about the best ways to further reduce this risk. Consider a reacher.
Free 19 Page Fall Prevention Guide
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