Tips to Prevent Senior Falls
When it comes to falling, intention is prevention Get the education and tools needed to prevent falls, preserve your body, and maintain your independence.
September 22nd is Falls Prevention Awareness Day
Did you know that falling is the most common injury for seniors above 65? The Center for Disease Control and Prevention identifies falling as a public health concern as it leads about three million seniors to the emergency department every year.
Your loved one can reduce their risk of falling with simple solutions that won’t take much effort or time to maintain. Getting started can be the most time- or labor-intensive process, but any effort is worth it if the result is a safer space for you and your senior loved one.
Here are five tips to prevent senior falls:
1. Keep the living space tidy
The most prevalent risk of senior falls is a living space that is overcrowded and otherwise in disarray. Many people assume a cluttered space is simply one that is unkempt, but the truth is that even a clean room can become a tripping hazard by the preponderance of “stuff”. An uncluttered space has an open floor area free of unnecessary furnishings, decor and misplaced items. If your living space requires tight navigation of sofas, end tables, plants, etc., that’s clutter, and it simply has to go. Be considerate of special adjustments to these areas of the home: Bedroom, Living room, Bathroom, Kitchen, Laundry Room, Walkways, Garage, Basement, Outdoor Areas.
Assess your environment and determine if the removal of certain furnishings or decor would improve navigation. Is all furnishing necessary, or are there extra pieces that could go? Simplify the living space layout and create as much space as possible. These considerations take into account more than the possibility of hampered balance; they acknowledge the changes in vision (depth perception), hearing and sensitivity to temperature that is another natural part of aging.
2. Remove hazards
As importantly, make adjustments to anything that might represent a risk of slipping or tripping. Tape electrical cords along the joint of the wall and floor. Move end tables closer to the wall and away from the walking area. Remove loose rugs or secure them with tape or non-slip backing. Be particularly vigilant in the bathroom, where the most serious falls occur. Install non-slip mats in the bathtub and add a bath seat and grab bars. Repair loose floorboards or torn carpeting.
3. Use adequate lighting
Because vision declines with age, it’s important to install adequate lighting for easy navigation any time of day. Place nightlights in the hallways, bathroom and bedroom so seniors can find their way to the light switch without impediments. Use glow-in-the-dark or illuminated light switches that offer a direct path, and place flashlights in accessible spots when power outages strike.
It’s also a wise idea to increase lighting in areas that can be dim or dark even in the daytime, such as stairways, hallways and pantries. Best for seniors to stay indoors once the sun is down, but if you must travel outside, make certain yard lighting is effective, and replace bulbs soon as they burn out. Now available are bulbs in a spectrum of colors, from warm/soft light to crisp/bright light. Experiment with the best choices for your senior.
4. Wear non-slip socks or shoes
A small adjustment to navigating hardwood floors is pulling on a pair of non-slip socks. Even barefoot is safer than wearing smooth/slick socks or soles. Best of all are proper house shoes for extra stability with their supportive arches, rubber soles and low heels. If you have knee or ankle conditions, check with the doctor for recommended shoes.
If you prefer to wear regular outdoor shoes, get two pairs: one for indoors, one for outdoors. This prevents dirt from tracking inside and lengthens their lifespan.
5. Use assistive devices
Senior homes often benefit from the installation of assistive devices. Common items include bathtubs with doors so you don’t have to step over the tub’s lid, safety bars in the shower or tub, handrails on both sides of staircases and non-slip treads for wooden stairs. You might also consider the helpfulness of grab bars along hallways and hand-held shower nozzles. Inspect their proper function and installation on occasion.
New assistive devices are introduced regularly. Keep an eye out for home additions that could further reduce slipping.
Senior living communities are designed to prevent senior falls
If you or your loved one are having difficulty navigating at home even with modifications, it could be time to look into an assisted living community such as MorningStar Senior Living. At MorningStar, our 24/7 care staff are dedicated to offering compassionate care by meeting each resident’s social, emotional, physical, and spiritual needs.