Prevent Seniors From Falling at Home – About 36 million falls are reported among older adults each year, and one of every five falls results in an injury such as a broken bone. Since older adults are frailer, seniors are safer in assisted living facilities and slower to heal, an ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure when it comes to falls. Here are nine things you can do at home to prevent your risk of falls as you age:
Declutter the Home
If you tend to throw objects on the floor, this is the first habit to stop. Even dirty clothes or a discarded front closure bra can be a tripping hazard. Remove everything from the floor and place it on a shelf or in a cabinet that is easily accessible for you (so nothing that requires a ladder). If you have so much stuff on the floor because there literally isn’t anywhere else to put it, then it’s time to declutter your house. Go room by room and make three piles: one to trash, one to donate and one to keep. Once you have freed up some space, you can move things off the floor and put them somewhere safe.
Remove Tripping Hazards
Objects that you never thought twice about can pose a trip and fall hazard as you get older. Rugs and electrical cords are the main two culprits, but there may be others as well — even loose post-op clothing can get tangled in your legs! Go through your house and move or relocate these objects so they are out of the way. For instance, you can run electric cords along the wall instead of laying them across the walkway. If you have rugs because your floors are slick, either replace them with no-slip floor coverings or attach them to the floor so they cannot move.
Install Grab Bars
Bathrooms are a common site for falls, in particular, the toilet and shower areas. Install grab bars anywhere you need a little extra support, and make sure that they are firmly anchored to the wall. You don’t want it to rip out as soon as you put your full weight on it. You should also install non-slip bath mats in the toilet and/or shower to help you stay safe from puddles. If showering while standing is increasingly becoming untenable for you, then you should also get a shower chair so you can bathe while sitting down.
Put Up More Lights
If you can’t see where you’re going, then you very well may trip over an object you didn’t even realize was there. To circumvent this scenario, upgrade your light bulbs to brighter models and install lamps in rooms where you don’t have enough overhead light (while remaining aware of electric cords, of course). Install nightlights in hallways and essential rooms in case you have to get up in the middle of the night. If you still live in a home with stairs, you should also consider installing battery-operated stair lights, which will illuminate them and help you step carefully.
Wear Shoe Inside
Wearing shoes inside is one of the best things that you can do to prevent falls as you age. Look for a shoe with a non-skid sole to give you the best fall protection possible. If you don’t like the idea of outside shoes tracking dirt all over your clean floors, then get a pair of shoes for swollen feet that are meant for indoor use only. The slippers should cover your heel and toe and feature Velcro so you can adjust the fit as necessary. Choose a color or style that will make you want to wear them. Having indoor shoes is useless if you always forget to put them on!
Watch Out for Pets
If you still have pets that like to get underfoot, such as a dog or cat, then you should be aware that your beloved fur child can actually pose a trip-and-fall hazard. Smaller pets and pets that blend in with the floor pose a greater risk, but all animals can potentially cause you to trip. Be careful around them, and consider asking a family member to adopt them if you feel that you have gotten to a point where you no longer live safely at home with your pet.
Move Items from High Shelves
Reaching too far or standing on top of a ladder can cause a fall as much as an obstruction on the floor can. Move items on high shelves down to lower cabinets, no higher than your head. Try to avoid using a step stool or ladder if at all possible, and don’t be afraid to ask for someone to get an object down for you. Even if the ladder is perfectly sturdy, your balance might not be, and you can fall even if you are only a foot or two off the ground.
Try to Limit your Stair Usage
Stairs are another major factor that contributes to falls, and living in a single-floor home with no stairs whatsoever is the safest choice for elderly people. However, there are retrofitting options if your home has stairs. These options include non-skid ramps for just a few stairs at a time or a stairlift for entire flights of steps. The stairlift in particular can cost a lot of money, so you’ll need to crunch the numbers on whether it makes more sense to install one or find a new place to live.
Consider a Medical Alert System
Medical alert systems won’t prevent a fall, but they can help you summon help in case of an emergency. This makes them ideal for people who live alone, people whose partners are often away and people who live in a large house where others might not hear if they call for help. For the medical alert system to be effective, you must commit to wearing the call button at all times so you can ring for help if you do fall.
Follow these tips to help keep yourself safe at home and lower your risk of falls.