Fall Prevention Tips for Elderly
Falls Can Be Avoided
No matter how careful, falls are not always preventable. The subsequent pain, suffering, temporary or permanent functional loss can be frustrating and depressing. And, injury may lead to longer term health problems. Breaking a bone and having to spend 4 weeks at a rehab facility may adversely effect family, caregivers, and elderly parents. Or hitting your head and requiring the EMT’s to arrive and a trip to the hospital for overnight observation. Sometimes these things happen.
However, there are some simple methods to follow which may minimize risks.
Remove Home Hazards
Take a look at your (parents) home. How is it laid out for walking traffic? It is likely to be filled with booby traps for elders. Is there space to walk comfortably in the home? You can greatly assist your parents by pitching in to eliminate the clutter. Set aside some time to tackle this chore in small doses. Remove boxes, newspapers, electrical cords and phone cords from walkways. Secure loose rugs with double-faced tape, tacks or a slip-resistant backing. Can you repair any loose, wooden floorboards and carpeting? Prep flooring with nonskid floor wax, and use nonslip mats in your bathtub or shower.
Keep the Living Space Well Lighted
As you age, less light reaches the back of your eyes where you sense color and motion. So make sure to keep your home and front steps brightly lit with 100-watt bulbs or higher to avoid tripping on objects that are hard to see. Also, place a lamp near your bed and within easy reach for when you get up at night. Consider installing glow-in-the-dark or illuminated switches. Put night lights in the bedroom, bathroom and hallways. Turn on the lights before venturing up or down stairs. And store a flashlight nearby so you can grab when needed.
Use Assistive Devices Like a Cane or Walker
A little help with balance and walking can go along way. (Leaning on your partner for help and balance is NOT appropriate! This puts two people at risk of falling!) At Home Care Partners, one area of focus is to assist seniors in the simple exercise of walking. We always suggest a walk around the block – or on the back deck – or down the hallway – or down to the end of the driveway and back.
Inside the home, you should consider grab bars mounted inside and outside your shower or bathtub. Perhaps a sturdy, plastic seat in the shower that will allow you to sit more comfortably when bathing. Do you have handrails on both sides of all stairways? Also consider buying a raised toilet seat or one with armrests — which is a big help. Finally, what does the floor or the steps look like? You can apply nonslip treads on wooden steps which will hold your foot and prevent slipping.
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John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions.
Phone: (781) 378-2164