Falls can be dangerous, sometimes even fatal, for your senior loved ones. Every year, one in three older Americans fall, according to the National Council on Aging. Falls are particularly dangerous because they can result in hip, shoulder, and other debilitating injuries. Fortunately, senior falls can be prevented by following a few common sense precautions for senior care.
In the Bedroom
It’s hard to break old habits. Although your friend or family member may have had no trouble in the past making a midnight trip to the bathroom in the dark, things have changed. Reduced mobility or deteriorating eyesight can make it more of a challenge to negotiate a dark room or hallway without tripping and falling. Following these steps to improve visibility and reduce falls is an important part of elder care.
- Add nightlights to the bedroom, hallway and bathroom.
- Keep floors clear from clutter.
- Place a lamp next to the bed and encourage your loved one to turn it on before venturing to the bathroom at night.
- Relocate the phone to a bedside table rather than across the room or encourage your friend or relative to keep a mobile phone nearby.
- Raise the mattress if your loved one has difficulty getting in or out of bed.
- Use glow-in-the-dark light switches.
In the Bathroom
Water can be dangerous no matter how old you are, but it can be even more problematic if you suffer from balance problems. These senior fall prevention tips can improve bathroom and home safety.
- Wipe up spills promptly.
- Remove throw rugs in the bathroom.
- Install grab bars in the bathtub or shower and around the toilet.
- Put non-slip mats or decals in the bathtub.
- Invest in a handheld shower nozzle and encourage your loved one to use it while sitting on a non-slip shower stool.
In the Kitchen
Caregivers can help loved ones stay safe by completing a thorough safety inspection of the kitchen. Explain to your relative that they’ll reduce the chance of senior falls if they:
- Keep frequently used items close at hand rather than storing them on high shelves.
- Don’t stand on boxes on other unsteady items to reach items.
- Wait for washed floors to dry completely before walking on them and avoid using floor wax.
- Avoid using throw rugs.
Throughout the Home
Aging brings about many changes, and it can be difficult to adjust the new reality, whether you’re personally affected or you’re involved in caregiving. Make home safety a priority throughout the home by keeping in mind the following recommendations:
- Add railings to both sides of a staircase and ask your loved one to use them every time he or she uses the stairs.
- Make sure he or she has comfortable shoes that fit correctly. Replace shoes when the soles are worn or if soles don’t provide enough traction.
- Use furniture that has sturdy arm rests to make it easier to move from sitting to standing and back.
- Attach double stick tape to the back of rugs to prevent slippage.
- Repair wrinkled wall-to-wall carpeting.
- Fix loose floorboards.
- Suggest that your loved one use a cane or walker if he or she is unsteady or suffers from dizzy spells.
Many American seniors overestimate their mobility, according to a study by the American College of Emergency Room Physicians. Although your loved one may initially resist using a cane or walker, these aids can help prevent potentially devastating falls.
Additionally, consider purchasing a Personal Emergency Response device for your friend or family member. The devices are worn around the neck or arm, and allow senior citizens to summon help with just the touch of a button.
Whether your loved one lives in an assisted living facility or a private home, preventing falls is of the utmost importance. Make fall prevention a priority by conducting regular inspections of the living space to identify new hazards.