Every year, one in three adults aged 65 and older experiences a fall. For seniors, falls can lead to moderate or severe injuries, including hip fractures or head trauma. Some of these incidents can lead to fatality. Below are some steps you can take to fall-proof your home.
Carefully take a look around every room in your home and identify what may cause you to trip or fall. In the bedroom, make sure it is well lit; place a lamp and telephone close to your bed. This way, in case of an emergency or fall, they are easy to reach. Keeping an illuminated light switch in your room and/or hallways will make finding the light switch easier, thus facilitating maximum visibility during late-night bathroom trips. Beyond illuminated light switches, placing nightlights around the house is extremely beneficial as well. A small nightlight is necessity near any staircases. Also, beds that are too high off the ground can cause injury, so make sure that the bed you sleep on is easy to get in and out of.
In your living room, make sure that furniture is clear of any high traffic walkways. Remove any furniture that is close to the ground like coffee tables, entertainment centers, or plant stands. Low to the ground furniture can cause you to stumble if you are not careful. Chairs or sofas that you sit in should not be too low because the lower furniture can make it much harder to get out of. Do away with items such as loose boxes, long electrical cords, and long phone cords that could easily get tangled around your feet. Also, area rugs or carpets that are not taped to the floor could fold over and trip you up. Be careful to tape down the edges of these items to prevent a fall.
Bathrooms are particularly hazardous and extra measures should be taken to avoid a slip or fall. Non-slip bath mats should be placed in your shower or tub. Using devices like a hand rail or shower seat to assist you in the bathroom are great options. Including a hand bar in your shower or bathtub can help you get in and out after washing yourself. Installing a raised toilet seat or a seat with armrests is also recommended if you have trouble standing up. The inability to get up from a sitting position results in falls as often as slipping on wet surfaces.
Your kitchen should have food, dishes, and cooking equipment stored in easy-to-reach places. You should never stand on chairs or boxes to reach the highest shelf or cabinets. Food or liquids spilled on the floor should be cleaned up immediately to avoid being slipped on.
If you have a second floor in your home, or stairs that lead to your front door, there are also precautions you can take to avoid falling. Always keep loose objects off the steps or stairs in your home, as they are likely to cause a fall. Be careful to make sure that any loose, broken, or uneven steps are repaired. Any carpeting that is placed on the staircase should be firmly secured or taped to every step. If this is too costly, or is too difficult for you, consider removing the carpet and attach non-slip rubber treads. Another helpful fix is the installation of a second handrail opposite the original banister.
Most importantly, discuss the issue of falling with your primary care provider. Ask them to review any medications you are taking (over the counter or prescribed) and if any of the medications cause dizziness, drowsiness, or nausea. Giving your primary care provider details on how, when, or where you feel like you will fall will make it easier for your doctor to develop a clear plan for fall prevention.
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