We all reach an age when self-care becomes somewhat of a feat. Even basic activities, like walking down the stairs, or even just getting around the house are accompanied by danger. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, no less than 33,000 people die from falls each year, most of them seniors. In fact, one-third of older adults experience falls yearly, explaining why these accidents are the number one cause of injury-related fatalities for people above 65.
If you have a senior family member who is starting to show mobility problems, don’t be overwhelmed. You can keep them safe by fall-proofing their home, starting with the following:
One of the reasons older adults fall is that they tend to walk by dragging their feet rather than lifting them. That said, make sure the flooring is senior-friendly and well secured. Hardwood covered with anchored carpet is always a good choice as it is soft enough but still gives a safe amount of traction. Needless to say, high-pile carpets should be avoided as they can cause trips.
Also, rugs or carpets should be firmly attached to the ground and not move with a little force. Anything that can slip when stepped on should be removed, but if you must put a rug anywhere, keep it non-slip. Or get some of those rug anchors for extra safety.
Another way to keep a senior’s home fall-proof is providing as much open living space as possible. For example, you can set up the furniture in a way that leaves a lot of room for moving around. If anything is there for purely aesthetic reasons, remove it and retain only what is necessary.
Accessibility of Day-to-Day Items
Food in the pantry, clothing, power outlets, light switches, car keys – all these and more should be easily accessible to the senior. The idea is to never make them have to reach so high that they can lose their balance and fall. To make sure you don’t leave anything out, sit down with them and learn about the things they need to get on a daily basis and then plan how to avoid fall hazards for each item.
It’s never just about having lighting in every part of the senior’s home. The lighting must be enough to prevent visibility-related falls, most especially in high-risk areas like the stairs, the bathroom, and even in the kitchen (in case mom or dad wants to get a midnight snack).
The first rule for securing stairs, especially for seniors, is to install railings. There should be at least two for the senior to grip while walking up or down the stairs. Non-slip adhesive strips on every step will also help them maintain balance. According to the National Safety Council, stair falls are the second most common cause of accidental injuries and deaths (next only to motor vehicle accidents) among people of all ages and not just seniors.
Toilet and Bathroom
Each year, one-third of the senior population experience falls, and from that statistic, 80% occur in the bathroom. These accidents can be prevented by simply installing grab bars and anti-slip mats in the bathtub, shower, and toilets.
Professional Home Care
Hiring a professional home caregiver means your beloved senior will no longer have to do tasks around the house on their own, hence drastically reducing their risk of injury. Besides, it’s always good to have someone providing immediate care during an accident while medical emergency help is on its way.
Nothing can make you feel more secure about a beloved senior than giving them easy access to help when needed. A basic help button can do the trick, and you have several options to consider in the market.
The reality of accidental death among the elderly is as real as it is frightening. Even if these accidents do not result in death, they can still cause massive changes in the surviving senior’s quality of life. They can set off a downward spiral where the person completely loses control over themselves, their capabilities, and the world around them. This makes fall prevention critical, and the good news is, protecting your loved can be possible through basic fall protection guidelines such as the above.
Aging in Place Specialists
You don’t have to do all of this on your own! Learn more about how a certified professional near you can help – see our section on aging in place specialists to get started.
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