While it might be impossible to guarantee that a fall won’t occur, there are still many steps that you can take to minimize the risk as much as possible. Falls in the home for seniors are no joke. Six in every ten falls happen at home. It’s where we spend the majority of our time. We’ll move around the home with little regard for our own personal safety, because we don’t expect something to go wrong at home. That doesn’t mean they won’t though. Here are some tips on how to fall-proof your home for seniors.
1. Get Rid of Obstructions that Could Cause Slipping or Falling
Make sure that the floor is kept clean of clutter and small furniture as much as possible. Things such as small decorations, bags, pet bowls, electrical cords, and throw rugs are hazardous. Floors should be free from obstructions, especially floors that are frequented by elderly people.
2. Create a Clear Walking Path
As well as keeping the floor clean, take care when arranging furniture. It should be arranged in such a way that an elderly person has more than enough room to walk freely. It’s important that you take items that may be tripping hazards out of hallways and off of the stairs. The stairs are a real problem area for falls.
3. Ensure Carpets are Secured
Take care to ensure that carpets are properly secured. Use non-slip rugs when possible or use double-sided tape to attach rugs to the floor. This prevents the edges from sticking up and being a potential hazard.
4. Prevent Wet Floors
You should always be aware of drips from showers and faucets that can become a tripping hazard for elderly people. When cleaning floors, use non-skid wax for waxed floors. This prevents the floor from becoming slippery after treatment.
5. Use Non-Slip Items in Bathrooms
The bathroom is a key area to focus on when fall-proofing a home. This is where many senior falls take place. There are lots of things you can do to make the bathroom safer, and one thing to consider is having non-slip strips or a rubber mat at the floor of the shower or bathtub to give them more grip.
6. Keep the House Well Lit
One of the easiest and simplest ways to prevent falls is to keep the home well lit. Given that eyesight tends to diminish with age, it is vital that you make sure the living space has enough light for seniors to properly take in their surroundings. They can’t avoid obstacles if they can’t see them, after all. There should be plenty of lighting at entrances, in rooms, and on the stairs. Keep outdoor walkways well lit too. When choosing a lightbulb, choose one that has the highest recommended wattage for the particular fixture.
7. Install Handrails
Stairs are one of the most dangerous places in a home for seniors. You can make things easier for them by installing handrails and making sure a senior knows how to use them properly. They should avoid carrying things up and down stairs with both hands as they want to maintain their balance. Handrails can also be installed in the bathroom in baths and showers to make them more accessible and senior-friendly.
Want to take it one step further? Install a stairlift and avoid the risk of walking up the stairs altogether. Stairlifts feature a seat which connects to a track that carries the rider up the stairs. While this may seem like an expensive option, over the years it has become quite affordable. Another added bonus, grandkids love them too!
8. Be Careful at Night
Night time is particularly dangerous for all people, never mind seniors. As the night rolls in we get groggy and have a harder time keeping our balance. Keep a lamp near the bed of the elderly person and put nightlights in the hallway, kitchen, and bathroom. Keep a flashlight by their bed in the event the power goes out and they have to get up and move around at night.
9. Maintain a Health and Exercise Regime
Prevention will always be better than the cure, and preventative health is an important step to take. By maintaining healthy habits such as eating right and exercising, elderly people can improve their coordination, balance, and overall health. Elderly people should focus on balance exercises and building lower body strength to help prevent falls.
10. Get a Medical Alarm
If you are at all worried about falls, then you should consider investing in an emergency response system. If you need help in the night or fall over, then you can push a button on a bracelet or necklace to send an emergency alert to 911. Unfortunately, fees are required to use this service and it may not be covered by your insurance.
Home Improvements can Prevent Falls
There are lots of ways to prevent falls in your home. You can even get help from the government in some cases. Several local and state governments offer education and home modification programs that can help to prevent falls for older people. Be sure to check with the health department or the local Area Legacy on Aging to learn if there is anything like that available to you. Even if you can’t get much help there, our other tips should help to keep the elderly people you know and love safe.