5 Tips to Prevent Falls at Home

Definition

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three seniors will fall in their homes at some point. One in five of those falls will leave the senior with a serious head injury, hip fracture, or broken bones. Maintaining a safe environment can help prevent falls.  

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Introduction

Seniors are more prone to falling than any other age group. A variety of factors contribute to their propensity to fall, such as failing health, medications, balance problems, and poor vision. As a person ages, altering the home to prevent falls becomes a necessity. Injuries are preventable with a few alterations such as improved lighting, removing trip hazards by decluttering, non-slip flooring, handrails/grab bars, and rearranging the kitchen. 

Solutions

Most home alterations that prevent falls are highly affordable and can be done with only minimal effort. 

  • Kitchen Rearrangement: Rearranging the kitchen cabinets so that the most commonly used dishes, foods, and cooking utensils are within easy reach prevents a senior from stretching, reaching, or climbing on a footstool to reach high items. If the senior has a difficult time crouching or leaning over, then items should also be removed from the lower cabinets or drawers and placed at mid-level. Keeping a grab bar on hand in the kitchen is also an ideal way to prevent falls. If a step stool must be used, then opt for a stable model that features a handrail to help stabilize the senior during use. 
  • Clutter: Clutter within the home creates a tripping hazard. Books, magazines, newspapers, excessive furniture, throw rugs, dog toys, knick-knacks, and electrical cords all obstruct the floor. When a senior navigates through such clutter, tripping becomes a real risk as their feet may get tangled in items, or they may bump into protruding surfaces. Pick up all clutter, remove all excess furniture and leave only the necessities in the room. You should run electrical cords against the wall or under rugs. Electrical floor strip covers not only hide the cords but also safely cover them so they no longer pose a trip hazard. 
  • Improved Lighting: As a person grows older, their vision starts to fail. Lighting often becomes an issue. Improving the lighting in a home helps a senior to see obstacles with greater ease. Track lighting easily outlines stairs, hallways and bathrooms. Placing lights at the top and bottom of stairs is also advised. Clap lights or motion-activated lights are beneficial for any senior getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom or kitchen, because they will not have to fumble to find light switches. Home computerized services such as Google Home or Amazon Alexa are enabled to control all lighting within the home. A senior need only command the service to turn on the lights. Such services also control the home’s security system and thermostat. Inexpensive nightlights can also be used in all rooms of the house to provide necessary lighting during the night. 
  • Non-slip Flooring: Tile, vinyl, and hardwood flooring are slippery, especially when wet. Throw rugs are also dangerous because they can become bunched up or slide across the floor’s surface and pose a significant fall hazard. Only use throw rugs that are heavy, and rubber-backed. Installing non-skid strips below the rug’s surface also secures the rug and keeps it from sliding. Installing non-slip flooring throughout the house is an ideal solution but can be expensive. Adhesive strips that have a rough surface create traction when placed over the top of tile such as in the bathroom, bathtub, shower, kitchen, and on stairs. 
  • Handrails and Grab Bars: Handrails and grab bars that screw into the wall offer support throughout the home. They are a must-have in the shower, bath, beside the toilet, and stairways. Tension support poles are easy to mount beside the bed, sofa, or recliner to offer support as a senior stands up, sits down or lies down. Avoid using grab bars that suction cup to the wall because they can slip down the wall’s surface or completely pull away from the wall if the senior falls and grabs hold. 
Conclusion

Increasing safety within the home is a necessity for all seniors who want to maintain an independent lifestyle. Home safety doesn’t have to break the bank. The above ideas are easy and cost-efficient. Each idea outlined can prevent unnecessary falls. Installing home safety items to prevent falls in the home also lifts the morale of the senior and alleviates fears. Many seniors become depressed and fearful of falling, which limits their movement indoors and significantly takes away from their overall enjoyment of life, according to the National Council on Aging (NCOA). Improving safety in the home helps prevent falls and improves peace of mind for the senior. 

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