If you have an elderly parent or grandparent in your life, one of the best things you can do to help them is to ensure their home is safe against the risk of falls. Unfortunately, falls are the leading causes for hospital visits (both nonfatal and fatal injuries) for people who are aged 65 and beyond. As people age, failing and/or tripping becomes significantly more dangerous and can lead to hip fractures, broken bones and/or head injuries. The good news is that most falls can be prevented-the key factor is to know where to look for risks and what you can do to prevent them. Here are just a few of the ways you can help reduce the risk of falls in the home of your elderly loved one.
One of the easiest, yet most important things you can do to ensure safety in the home of a senior is to make sure their home has proper lighting. The more lights installed and the brighter they are-the better. Falls among the elderly happen frequently in inadequately lit rooms, especially when they get up at night to use the bathroom or go to the kitchen for a glass of water. To check the lighting, take a walk through the house and make sure each area, especially the kitchen, bathroom and stairwells, is well lit. Install night lights along the path to the bathroom and at the top and bottom of stairs.
Bathroom Safety Fixtures
In some situations, ensuring the bathroom is safe against falls, it may require a little remodeling, but in most cases it only takes the installation of a few items to protect against falling. A few quick and easy things you can do may include:
- Install grab bars in the shower/tub and along the wall in front of or beside of the toilet.
- Soap bars can be slippery and hard to pick up if dropped, so consider getting rid of bar soap and using a soap dispenser instead.
- The use of a transfer seat will help to prevent falls for seniors who have a loss of muscle strength.
- Install non-slip matting in the bottom of the bathtub.
- Make sure the floor tile is non-slip. If it isn’t and cannot be replaced, place a skid proof mat in front of the bathtub.
Clear the Clutter
Clutter on the floor can be a serious problem for the elderly. Inspect each room to make sure there isn’t any clutter on the floors and in the hallway. Keep in mind that even a stack of magazines or newspapers can be hazardous if they are in or near the walking path. Eliminate clutter by using bins and/or baskets to organize items. Also check to make sure all electrical cords are tucked away and not laying in walking paths.
Toss the Throw Rugs
Throw rugs and large area rugs can be extremely challenging for seniors, especially if they have mobility challenges. Remove all throw rugs and use a no-slip backing on large area rugs to prevent the rug from sliding, which may cause the senior to slip and fall when they step on it. If there is wall-to-wall carpeting, carefully inspect it to make sure there isn’t any loose or curled ends or bulges that may cause tripping.
Providing a walker can help prevent slips and falls when seniors try to make their way through the house, especially at night. If a walker is used, make sure it is sturdy and has non-slip devices on the legs. Encourage your senior relative to wear slippers or socks with traction on the bottom.
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