Thousands of seniors fall every year in their home. There are many reasons seniors fall. Certain medications, medical conditions, and changes in vision, balance or reflexes are just a few things that can contribute to the risk.
One major, preventable contributor to falls in seniors includes hazards around the home. As seniors age, it can be helpful to reevaluate the home and make changes to create a safer environment. Some of these changes can be very simple yet very effective.
1- Keep the Floor Clear
Ensure walkways are free of clutter. Papers, books, blankets and other objects are easy to slip or stumble over. Allow ample room to maneuver around furniture.
2- Use Area Rugs with Caution, if at All
Remove throw rugs and area rugs, which can be easy to trip over. If removing the rug is non-negotiable, use non-slip backing or double-sided tape to help reduce the risk of tripping.
3- Control Cords
Make sure all cords are well clear of walkways. Coil and secure cords or tape them out of the way if needed. Hiring an electrician to install additional outlets may be worth the expense.
4- Step up Stair Safety
Stairs and steps can be dangerous areas. To reduce the risk:
- Keep stairs free of clutter and items.
- Fix torn or loose carpeting and broken, uneven or loose steps promptly.
- Attach non-slip strips to the steps.
- Ensure good lighting around stairwells. Hire an electrician to install an overhead light at both the top and bottom of stairways. Ensure light switches are available at both the top and bottom of the stairs.
- Ensure handrails are present and in good repair the entire length of both sides of the staircase.
5- Set up for Easy Reach
Rearrange the kitchen cupboards, if necessary, to be sure frequently used items are within easy reach. Avoid using step stools if possible, and never stand on chairs.
6- Aim for Bright, Even Lighting
Aim for bright, even lighting throughout the entire home, paying special attention to walkways. The path from the bed to the bathroom should be clear and well lit. Lamps at the bedside can enable seniors to turn on a light before they stand up from the bed. Motion detector nightlights can also be beneficial.
7- Enlist the Help of Home Care Services
Home care services provide professional senior care aides to go into the homes of older adults and assist with various challenges related to aging.
Compassionate caregivers can assist with higher-risk activities, such as showering or dressing. They can lighten the load of laundry, housework or cooking, which reduces the risk of falling when carrying awkward items and also conserves a senior’s energy. Home care aides also can drive seniors to doctor’s or fitness appointments, or they can walk together to keep active.
Other Recommendations to Reduce Fall Risk
Other measures seniors can take to reduce their risk of falling include:
- Exercise regularly to improve balance and leg strength.
- Request a doctor or pharmacist to review all prescriptions and over the counter medications to identify anything that may be contributing to a fall risk.
- Wear well fitting non-slip shoes at all times, even inside. Especially avoid slippers that easily slip off feet.
- Get up slowly after sitting or lying down. Sometimes it takes a few minutes for aging bodies to adjust to these changes. Many seniors become lightheaded or dizzy if they get up too quickly.