Each year there are 100’s of thousands of elderly adults admitted into the hospital for fall injuries. Unfortunately, many of these falls may have been prevented by making simple changes and taking the appropriate precautions. The first step in preventing the risk of elderly falls is to evaluate their home environment, take notice of any potential hazardous things that can be changed, and any modifications that can be done to make their home a safer place. Here are four tips to help ensure your elderly loved one’s home is safe against potential falls.
One of the most common causes of elderly falls is the lack of proper lighting. Many elderly adults suffer from some type of visual impairment; unfortunately the combination of visual impairments and dimly lit rooms can increase the risk for falls. For this reason, it’s important to ensure that all rooms, stairways, and pathways are bright enough during both the daytime and nighttime. A common time for falls is during the night as seniors are walking to the bathroom, so it’s essential that the pathway to the bathroom be lit well enough to prevent falling. Consider installing automatic night lights, place a lamp beside the bed and make sure there is a flashlight near the bed in case of a blackout.
Elderly adults need room to freely and easily move around, especially when walkers or canes are being used. A crowded, cluttered room can make it difficult to easily navigate the space and lead to elderly falls, so it’s important to remove all items that may be an obstacle, especially if they don’t serve a functional purpose, such as large decorative items on the floor. All rooms should be clean and clutter-free. Remove all newspapers, magazines, and clothing from the floors and pay close attention to the stairways. For instance, check for loose carpeting on steps and make sure banisters are secure.
Grab Bars and Safety Rails
Many elderly falls and accidents occur in the bathroom, especially around the shower and tub area, so it’s essential that these areas are safe. Wet and slippery bathroom floors pose a significant fall risk for the elderly. Although it’s best to remove all rugs, if a rug is used in the bathroom make sure it is non-slip and attached to the floor. A safety mat placed inside the shower or bathtub will help reduce the risk of slipping in the tub. If standing is difficult for your elderly loved one, consider placing a shower chair in the shower/tub for additional support. Grab bars are easy to install and can be extremely beneficial in preventing falls. Consider installing grab bars close to the shower and next to the toilet. For extra prevention, consider installing safety handrails on both sides of stairs, extending from the bottom to the top.
The best way to reduce elderly falls is by ensuring there is nothing to trip over, so it’s best to remove all throw rugs, keep floors free from clutter and check tile and wood flooring to make sure there isn’t a waxy coating that can lead to slippery flooring. For added safety measures, consider hiring a home care agency to make routine visits to your loved one. Home caregivers are excellent resources for assisting the elderly with tasks that may increase fall risks, such as showering, dressing, and household chores.