One in three adults over age 65 falls each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These falls often lead to fatal or non-fatal injuries in the elderly. Unlike younger people, the bodies of older individuals are not always able to withstand the impact of falls. Instead of developing minor bruises and aches, elderly individuals may suffer broken bones or even death. While you cannot always prevent such accidents from occurring, you can significantly reduce a fall risk by implementing simple safety tips. To reduce the likelihood of a fall, encourage seniors to do the following:
Get Rid of Clutter
Too much clutter is a common problem in many households. From stacks of old newspapers and magazines to too many shoes lying on the floor, these items can pose a fall risk for the elderly. You can drastically reduce a person’s risk of falling by cleaning up or getting rid of excess clutter in the home. It is especially important to keep doorways and walkways clear of debris. You also want to make sure that there are no items in hallways or staircases that could cause a tripping hazard.
Engage in Regular Exercise
Maintaining good mobility is important when trying to reduce your fall risk. Ideally, seniors should perform exercises that will increase their flexibility, leg strength, and overall balance. Yoga, Tai Chi, walking, and bicycling are all good options. While each person’s physical abilities are different, try to schedule 30 to 60 minutes of exercise at least three days a week. If you suffer from mobility issues, talk to your doctor about participating in a monitored exercise program tailor-made to your abilities. A referral to a physical therapist may help improve balance, gait, and muscle strength.
Install Handrails and Grab Bars
Balance problems are common among older adults. Having a secure surface to hold onto can reduce your fall risk and make it easier to maneuver through your home. Handrails and grab bars are easy to install and can make it easier to perform simple tasks, such as getting in and out of the bathtub. These safety devices are generally inexpensive and compact enough to be installed nearly anywhere, including by toilets, bathtubs, and in hallways and stairways. Be sure to install these devices properly with anchors to ensure that they are truly secure.
Speak With Your Doctor
Sometimes falls occur due to issues outside of your environment. Consider how your health could be affecting your balance and mobility. First, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the medications that you are taken and whether or not they could be the cause of any drowsiness or dizziness you may be experiencing. If your eyesight seems to be deteriorating, this could result in the inability to see tripping hazards. Make an appointment with an optometrist at least once per year to get your eyes checked. If necessary, wear glasses to improve your vision.
Add Ample Lighting to the Home
If your home is not well-lit, your fall risk will inevitably grow. Check each area in your living space to ensure that it has ample lighting to avoid hard-to-see objects and tripping hazards. If possible, place a lamp within reach of your bed in case you need to get up in the middle of the night. Plug in night lights in the bathrooms and hallways to help guide your way. Also, have several flashlights stashed around your home for easy access to lighting in the event of a power outage.
Wear Appropriate Footwear
Most people choose footwear based on appearance rather than practicality. Unfortunately, this can be hazardous to older adults who are at a higher risk for falls. Avoid certain types of footwear that could make you slip or stumble, such as flip flops, high heels, or shoes with slick soles. Instead, opt for a well-fitting and sturdy shoe with a non-skid sole. Wearing socks alone can also be a slip risk, especially in homes with hardwood or tile floors. If shoes are not an option, opt for non-slip socks that have grips on the soles to prevent sliding.
Better Organize Your Kitchen
You likely spend a lot of time in your kitchen, preparing meals and eating. Unfortunately, this is one room in your home that can be a major fall risk. Throw rugs on the floor can result in slip and falls. When preparing meals, spilt food, grease, or liquids on the kitchen floor can cause you to fall. Food ingredients, dishes, and cooking equipment that are kept in difficult-to-reach places can also pose a fall hazard. To reduce these risks, maintain an organized kitchen. Ensure that your floor remains clean and dry, and that items that you use regularly are easily accessible.
Use Caution Outdoors
Cooler weather can cause a variety of hazards right outside your door. From wet snow to sheets of ice on sidewalks and driveways, these conditions can cause serious injuries if you were to slip and fall. Take extreme caution when venturing outdoors in hazardous conditions. Be sure to walk slowly and use ice melt on steps, sidewalks, and driveways. It is also a good idea to hire someone to shovel the snow off of your pathways. If you can avoid going out in bad weather, stay indoors or ask for assistance.
Preventing Fall Injuries
While each of these fall prevention tips can go a long way to keeping seniors safe from fall-related injuries, the best prevention strategy for most seniors is in-home care. With help from an in-home care agency, the elderly can receive direct care from experienced and well-trained nursing assistants who can provide help with a variety of daily tasks, such as bathing, dressing, toileting, nutrition, and transportation. An in-home care agency can also help ensure that the home remains clean and free from problems that could pose a safety hazard. For more information about in-home care, schedule a consultation with the professionals at Comfort Home Care.