Everyone no matter his or her age is at risk for a fall. For younger individuals, a fall can mean simply a cut or a bruise and rarely leads to major complications. However, for elderly people, a fall can be much more catastrophic, leading to bruising, breakages, not being able to get oneself up after, and many more complications. According to the CDC, most falls happen in the home. The good news is that there are many ways to prevent falls around the house by making some simple changes.
The first are we are going to discuss is the bathroom. The bathroom is one of the most high-risk areas of the house because water can and does accumulate. Once water accumulates on a tile surface, the area becomes slick, creating a major fall risk. The first step is to try to eliminate water from getting on the bathroom floor.
Making sure the shower door is tightly sealed and fixing areas that cause leakages can do this. Even with no water leaking out of the shower, it is still difficult to prevent water from not being carried on the person out of the shower. Because of this, anti-slip mats are recommended outside the shower. The next place to inspect is in the shower.
Many showers today are installed with an anti-slip surface. If your shower does not have traction on the bottom to prevent falls, it’s a good idea to purchase a mat for within the shower as well. Also, getting in and out of the shower can pose problems. Installing grab bars inside and outside the shower can provide stability.
The next area of the house to look at is the hallway and any walkways. Are they well lit? Increasing the lighting in these areas decreases the risk of a fall.
Make sure there is no clutter. Clutter can be anything from furniture, stands and tables, and electrical cords. They may not seem like a big deal, but to an elderly adult, even getting your foot caught on them once, can cause a fall. This goes for the rest of the house as well. Decrease the amount of freestanding objects. Also, in regards to throw rugs, if they are not secured to the floor, either secure them or remove them. The same goes with cords. No matter where they are located, it is important that they are anchored and secured.
A last area to look at is your bedroom. Is your bed too high or too low? If the bed is too high, it could run the risk of falling out of bed. Too low, and you may injure yourself trying to get up. This advice goes the same for all the furniture you have in your home.
These steps will help you fall proof your home. Make sure to speak with your primary care provider in regards to what other devices or techniques you can utilize to live a safe, healthier life.
--Guest Author Jacob Edward is the manager of ALTCS, a division of Senior Planning, an organization that helps find assisted living communities in Phoenix. Jacob founded Senior Planning in 2007 and has helped many Arizona seniors and their families navigate the process of long term care planning.