Adults 65 years of age and older are more at risk of injuries resulting from falls with 20 percent of these falls resulting in serious injury or hospitalization. Falls send over 2.8 million older adults to the hospital each year, affecting their quality of life and ability to live independently. Fractures are one of the most common types of injury, with 95 percent of hip fractures being caused by falls. Falls are also the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries. Hospital stays cost an average of $30,000, which can weigh heavy on older adults and their caretakers. But what are the best fall prevention tips to keep yourself safe at home?
In addition to muscle strengthening exercises, working on balance, getting your eyes checked, and any additional medical screening recommended by your doctor, there are many ways to prevent falls. The following home fall prevention tips are crucial when preparing your or a loved one’s home to be fall-proof.
Bathrooms are the most common area where falls take place. There’s an abundance of devices that you can install as well as other precautions that will ensure you or your loved one can perform daily tasks safely.
- Install grab bars in the shower and next to the toilet for easy access and control.
- Shower chairs are a great addition, as they will make bathing more comfortable and require less standing.
- Hand-held shower heads will also aid in requiring less movement on an otherwise slippery surface.
- Add a non-slip mat inside the shower as well as outside.
- Installing a bed rail will help with stabilization. Sometimes, getting up too quickly can cause dizziness.
- Make sure adequate lighting is reachable from where you sleep. Trying to navigate through a dark room can be dangerous.
- Putting a flashlight on your bedside table is a proactive precaution in case of any power outages.
Living rooms are where we tend to spend a lot of our time, and not really a place we consider a potential hazard. You can apply many of these fall prevention tips to any room in the house, but especially important for larger areas like living rooms.
- Tape down all rug corners. Rugs tend to roll up at the corner, making it a dangerous spot to catch a foot and tumble over.
- Keep electrical cords for lamps, televisions, fans, etc. taped down and/or away from walking paths.
- Purchase a reach stick for grabbing items while sitting or higher than you can reach.
- Make sure sofas and chairs are comfortable and not too deep so that they are easy to get in and out of.
Being able to utilize the kitchen and cook properly is paramount to maintaining independence. Kitchens are also prone to slippery floors and spills, so making sure to clean up after every spill thoroughly is important.
- Add lighting to all areas of the kitchen, including over-the-counter tops, stove tops, sinks, and a light switch at every entrance into the kitchen.
- Never use wheelchairs or carts in the kitchen. Sometimes, our instincts are to grab onto anything if we lose balance, and this could make matters worse.
- Have a list of emergency numbers posted on the fridge. If you were to fall and yell for help, neighbors will be able to call your emergency contact after phoning 911. These numbers can also be placed around the house, for instance, at the entryway.
- Put commonly used items within reach and consider purchasing plastic dishware. If a glass is dropped on the ground and it breaks, it could leave you at risk of painful cuts.
Hallways and Stairwells
While having no stairs in the house is ideal, it’s not always practical to move locations. Instead, consider the following to make them safer.
- Never have any clutter on the stairs or hallways. As we age, our vision worsens, and we may overlook something small.
- With that said, adding alternating colored tape to each stair will help with confusion about where to place your foot. Stairs that are all the same color can blend in.
- Have a light on the top and bottom of the stairs as well as on the entryway for each hallway.
- Have someone fix loose or uneven steps. This goes for anywhere in the home, especially if you have old and natural wood floors.
- If you have small pets, make sure to take their leashes off and hang them up after being outside.
All areas of the home should be decluttered, and have good lighting, and all rugs should be flat and secured down. Carrying a cordless or cell phone around as well as having a life support system are additional ways to help you live worry-free.
If you have questions about your home’s safety and for more fall prevention tips, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 570-208-2787.