Safeguarding a home to prevent falls

Falling down as a child was normal. Some dirt would be on our knees, and maybe a bump or scrape to cry about before getting back up and playing.

Falling is one of the leading causes of death in those over 65 years old.

As a senior citizen, the thought of falling down can be terrifying. Safeguarding your home to prevent falls should be a regular task to help avoid a dangerous or even fatal fall. The risk of falling can be all too common among the elderly. Over one-third of adults who are 65 and older fall every year in the U.S. typically from tripping, slipping, or even dizziness from medication. Icy conditions with our recent cold spells have increased the likelihood for many to take a tumble. Whilst we can't control the weather we can at least make our homes as safe as possible. Here is a checklist for the key rooms in your home.

Is your home as safe as it can be?

Staircase Safety Tips and Solutions

  • Always keep objects such as shoes, clothing, books or other objects off stairs.
  • Fix loose, broken or uneven steps and fix loose handrails.
  • Install overhead lights and light switches at the top and bottom of the stairs. Consider light switches that glow. 
  • Make sure the carpet is firmly attached to every step, or remove the carpet and attach non-slip rubber treads to the stairs.
  • Handrails should be installed on both sides of the staircase and a grab bar added near the final step at the top of the stairs.
  • If overall mobility and imbalance is an issue, keep a spare cane at the top and bottom of stairs.
  • If using the stairs is difficult or nearly impossible due to diminished mobility, or if have almost fallen on the stairs, consider installing a stair lift to safeguard against falling down the stairs.

Bathroom Safety

The bathroom can be the most dangerous room in the house.  To increase safety and accessibility in your bathroom, you should consider making the following home modifications:

  • Place non-skid mats in front of the sink and tub to absorb excess water and prevent falls
  • Install grab bars next to the toilet and around the tub for balance and to ease transfers
  • Install an elevated toilet or a raised toilet seat to make it easier and safer to stand up or transfer
  • Consider purchasing a bath lift with a swivel seat for safer bath entry and exiting

Bedroom Safety Tips

  • Ensure there’s ample room to move around.
  • Store frequently used items in lower-level drawers and cabinet spaces.
  • Remove the closet and cabinet doors to provide unobstructed access.
  • Consider leaving some items out of drawers or in baskets, where they can be more easily reached.
  • Add night lights and touch-pad lights next to the bed.
  • A telephone should be immediately accessible next to the bed and reachable from the floor.
  • Consider a bed rail, bed cane, or bed pull-up strap.
  • Increase access in closets or build a walk-in closet with storage at differing heights and install low hung rod. Use height-adjustable shelves with most used items within reach.
  • Don't store items overhead that would require overextending and straining reach. 

Staying Healthy

Eating healthy and taking recommended supplements can help an elderly person not only during a fall, but also in the recovery. If a person is well nourished and healthy their body will be less susceptible to damage when they fall. Some common results of elderly falls are fractures. Those fractures can be as small as fractured wrists and as dire as in spinal or hips. By exercising and eating right, the body can be more prepared to fight back against injuries.

 

Below are some links to additional resources:

 

More ideas on fall prevention from Seniorliving.org

The National Institute on Aging has some tips for preparing yourself

Agingcare.com shares some advice on how to help someone that has just fallen

Five Star Senior Living writes about regaining confidence after a fall

 

More from the Care Giver Corner

Leave a Comment