An often overlooked precaution for keeping your loved one free from injury is fall-proofing your house. There are many ways to assess whether your loved one is at risk of injury from a fall and several options to help ensure their safety in their home. Definitely speak with your in home caregiver about these risks, speak with your loved one, and formulate a plan to help avoid falls. In America alone, the CDC has determined that over 2 million trips to the emergency room annually are attributed to falls.
Fall-Proofing Your Home
The bathroom is the area you should focus on first because that’s where most senior falls occur. Grab bars may need to be installed in various places and rugs should cover areas where slipping might occur. Here are other recommendations to help keep your elderly relative safe from falling in your home environment:
1. Look for hazardous items that can cause tripping or slipping if stepped on.
Small items and furniture, power cords for devices, toys for the grandkids to play with and small decorative items can be potentially hazardous and cause a fall if they are tripped over while walking. Be sure to clean up after kids hav been playing with toys. We all know the immense pain stepping on small items can cause and steps must be taken to keep these items off the floor.
2. Make room or a specific path to walk through
Consider less bulky furniture and moving smaller items out of the way so that there is adequate room to navigate through the house freely. No items should be left within a walking path, or on steps or in hallways that might cause a stumble.
3. Secure rugs and carpets
If rugs cover an area, make sure they have slip free double sided adhesive to hold them in place and keep them from sliding. Rubberized mats may be best.
4. Keep floors dry and clean up spills immediately.
Ensure that water is not winding up on the floor outside of the shower. If mopping the kitchen or bathroom is on the agenda for the afternoon, be sure that you have communicate that to your elderly loved one. Dry any spills immediately to keep wood or tile floors slip free.
5. Bathroom Precautions
One of the most common places senior falls occur is in the bathroom. Hand railings can be mounted and rubber mats can be used to reduce the likelihood of slipping or sliding with wet feet on a tile floor. Handrails are a great idea on the outside of a shower, as well as inside, and a shower seat or bench can be used to further stabilize an individual and keep them from having a fall in the shower.
6. A Well-Lit space is a safe space!
Proper lighting helps avoid strain on the eyes, and allows your loved one to see anything on the floor that they could potentially slip over. Sufficient lighting is needed on outside entrances, in hallways, stairways, and throughout the home to keep everyone safe as they move freely around their home. Be careful in the evenings. Being tired can result in poor balance which can be dangerous at night time. Make sure flashlights are nearby in the event of a power outage. Visibility is key!
7. Avoid carrying bags or bulky items
Having your hands free will allow you to use your arms to help correct your balance. Your loved one needs to understand not to attempt to carry bulky groceries or other items up staircases.
8. Maintain a consistent diet and physical activity
This one is sort of a no brainer. To keep yourself fit, strong, and reduce the likelihood of an injury from a fall, exercise helps seniors maintain and increase their stength and balance. Performing lower body activities keeps legs strong. The more active you can help your loved one to be the better their quality of life can be!
At Hands and Hearts Home Care, our caregivers can help evaluate fall risks and make small changes to help your loved one avoid falls and injuries. Are there any other ideas you have put into place to reduce fall risks for your family at home? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!