Updated January 20, 2023 – A common fear amongst seniors is falling at home. And who can blame them for that? It’s scary to think about falling and getting hurt, especially for older adults who may be more susceptible to injury.
Also, no one wants to admit that they are getting old, becoming more frail and need help either from a person or an assistive device!
But the hard truth is that falls are one of the leading causes of injuries and death in seniors.
Every year, millions of Americans older than 65 experience falls, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This translates to 1 in 4 older adults falling, resulting in more than 800,000 emergency department visits, with 1 in 5 of the falls resulting in serious injuries such as broken hips or other bone fractures, or head trauma, according to CDC. Falls are the leading cause of injury and death in this age group, the CDC says.washingtonpost.com
Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveal that 3 million elderly people are treated in emergency for fall injuries each year. When a senior falls, they are likely to suffer traumatic brain injuries, cuts, fractures, and broken bones.
If you are a senior or have an elderly loved one at home, you can focus on preventing the risk of falling by learning about the causes of falls and employing some the following fall safety tips for seniors.
Fall prevention makes a HUGE difference in how a person spends their elder years. Look at some statistics in this…Alzheimer’s Association – SC (@AlzSC) October 27, 2016
Did you know that 95% of hip fractures are a result of falls? Other serious injuries that elderly people sustain due to falling include head injuries and broken bones. It makes sense to prevent these injuries for older people who are a fall risk by simply implementing the recommendations we make in this article.
Risk Factors For Falls
Some of the most common risk factors that make someone more susceptible to falls include:
- Limited physical abilities
- Limited physical endurance
- Foot problems such as numbness, peripheral neuropathy, drop foot, etc.
- Unstable gait
- Balance problems
- Poor muscle strength in the lower extremities
- Neurological disorders
- Low blood pressure
- Impaired vision
Any one of these common causes of falls and medical conditions put elderly adults at a higher risk for falling and causing a serious injury to themselves. Every family member that is caring for a senior loved one should be aware of these risk factors.
Fall Prevention Checklist For Elderly And Caregivers
The good news is that many fall injuries, even nonfatal injuries due to falling can be avoided.
But, that means that as family caregivers, you have to have “the talk” with your senior loved one.
It can seem awkward to talk about fall prevention, often because it requires your loved one to admit they may be losing their balance or strength. By being open and honest about the options available, they can be assured that securing the home will help them maintain their independence and stay in the environment they’ve come to know and love. Getting their input on the design of any welded additions to the home can be a great way to get their buy-in, too.primeweld.com
Plan to take the time to speak with your senior loved one about this very important issue. Invite their input on making their home safer and easier to navigate with assistive devices, such as grab bars in the bathroom and strategically placed handrails along staircases.
They may be resistant to home modifications, so it can be helpful to remind them that this is all about preventing falls and keeping them safe. Talk with them about how these changes will provide premium safety for both of you.
How Can We Prevent Falls In The Elderly At Home?
Fortunately, there are many ways that you can help reduce the likelihood of falls in seniors at home. Use these 24 tips listed below to help yourself and/or a senior loved one to prevent from falling in the home.
- Elders should stay active. A physically active elderly person can build and maintain stronger legs and muscles, which can help to reduce the risk of falling. In the long run, an exercise program like walking or tai chi can also improve the body’s mobility and flexibility and helps to lessen the symptoms of arthritis, which again reduces the chances of falling. Even if you walk with a cane or a walker – physical activity can help greatly. Ask your physician for a referral to a physical therapist to get you started.
- Stair aids for seniors living in multi level homes. There are several types of stair aids that can help seniors who have to use stairs in their home. Whether it’s a stair lift or some other type of stair aid – installing these can help to prevent future falls. A home assessment by an occupational therapist can help you to identify what changes and assistive devices can help you
- Make stairs safer. Use colored glow in the dark tape on steps or paint each step a different color to help anyone with low visual acuity to identify each step. Adding stair treads and additional lighting on the staircase is very important as well. Read more about modifying stairs.
- Wear appropriate eyewear. Vision problems can increase the risk of fall in seniors. Having your eyes checked regularly by an eye doctor and wearing any needed glasses or contact lenses can decrease the risk of falls.
- Be mindful of medications. Some prescription drugs have side effects such as drowsiness or dizziness, which can increase the risk of falls for seniors. Don’t be hesitant to speak to your doctor about changing your medications if they are causing the types of side effects that are causing you to fall.
- Use appropriate mobility tools. If you need a walker or a cane or a wheelchair – do not hesitate to use them. They can take some time to get used to but in the long run they can help you to keep your independence and help to prevent you from falling.
- Add some senior friendly furniture that will help your senior loved to get up and down from their favorite sitting spot like this Laptop Table with Safety Handle.
- Wear appropriate shoes. One small factor that can contribute to slips and falls are inappropriate footwear. It seems like such a simple little thing but wearing shoes with high heels or smooth soles or ones that don’t fit properly can help to create a situation where your senior loved one can slip or trip and fall. We strongly recommend sturdy shoes with a low heel or flat and with a non skid sole.
- Non slip socks for seniors. An older person like my elderly mother, who insist on wearing socks instead of shoes in their home has a much higher risk of falling. There are a large variety of non slip socks for both men and women to choose from. The best way to avoid a possible injury is to switch to these non slip socks.
- Ensure there are enough lights throughout the home. Well lit living areas can help to prevent someone from bumping or tripping over something. I can’t tell you how many patients I treated who fell due to poor lighting when going from their bed to the bathroom during the night.
- Get rid of throw rugs. Or at the very least, secure them from sliding with non-slip backing or by putting a slip resistant material underneath. (Read more about why you should eliminate throw rugs here.)
- Immediately clean up any spills. It’s such a simple thing but slipping on a wet substance has been known to cause injury.
- Declutter all living spaces. Removing excessive furniture, knick-knacks, plants, etc. and generally decluttering living spaces throughout the house will reduce the chances of tripping or bumping into these items and falling. Don’t forget to also declutter the shower stall!
- Use appropriate step stools. Replacing a regular step stool with one that has an extended handle can certainly help to keep someone from falling off that step stool. This way, seniors can balance themselves when they need to retrieve items from high shelves. Better still, encourage them to ask for help in such cases or empty high shelves and move items to lower shelves.
- Re-organize kitchen cabinets. Moving items that are frequently used to lower, more accessible cabinets or drawers will help to prevent having to use a step stool.
- Place slip-resistant, water-absorbent mats near any sources of water. Mats in front of the kitchen sink, the refrigerator, or by a counter that has a water filtration system on it are good locations.
- Replace caster chairs with regular chairs. Many seniors have chairs with caster wheels in their kitchen – I have personally seen and known several older adults who have fallen from these types of chairs. I strongly recommend that these be removed and replaced with standard chairs without wheels.
- Install grab bars throughout the home. Many think of grab bars as just for the bathroom but I do believe they can be used throughout the home, wherever it may be needed to help someone get up, get down or simply to walk down the hallway.
- Remodel the shower. Converting a shower to a barrier free walk in shower may seem like a big home remodeling project but it will be worth it to help prevent an incident of falling.
- Use shower benches and/or chairs. If you don’t have a built in bench in your shower then use a shower bench or chair. It’s estimated that about 80% of falls in the home occur in the bathroom so eliminating any possibility would be helpful.
- Install a flexible shower head. It’s much safer to use a shower head that can be handled directly from the sitting position in the shower and/or tub so install one with a mount that can be placed close to the shower chair/bench.
- Consider a walk in tub or cut out tub. If you or your senior loved one loves baths then a walk in tub would be the safest option as they grow older. But if they can still get up and down from a standard bathtub then you can consider a lower cost option of a cut out tub.
- Install non slip flooring or convert existing flooring. You don’t have to install non slip flooring if you can’t afford it. There are several products available that can be used to make your existing floors less slippery. Read our Senior Guide To The Best Flooring For Aging In Place to learn more.
- Use alert devices. Whether you use a medical alert device or Alexa or personal alarm device or any of the motion sensor products available these days – it’s important to use something just in case you do fall and need help. Also, if you wear a hearing aid, you may want to try this one from Starkey which also detects falls.
Many of these are just simple things that you can begin doing today!
Although there is no 100% surefire way to prevent falling – these tips can certainly help to minimize the risks that are so often associated with older adults falling in their homes.
What Is The First Aid For Falls?
Falls can be very dangerous and can cause a variety of injuries. It is essential to know the first aid steps to take if you or someone you are with falls. The initial response should involve assessing any immediate danger, such as exposure to hazardous materials or risk of further injury from another fall.
- Once you have ensured that the person is safe, you should check for any signs of serious injury, such as excessive bleeding or difficulty breathing.
- If necessary, call for emergency medical help immediately.
- If the person does not appear to be seriously injured, it’s important to keep him or her still until a professional can assess them.
- If necessary, use pillows and blankets to keep them warm.
- You can also provide reassurance and comfort to the person who has fallen until help arrives.
- It’s important to watch for signs of shock, such as pale skin, nausea, dizziness or confusion. If these signs are present, elevate their legs above their heart level and provide further reassurance and comfort until medical help arrives.
- Finally, make sure to document the circumstances of the fall and any injuries that were sustained. This information is important to provide to medical professionals in order to ensure proper treatment can be provided.
By following these steps, you can help an injured person who has fallen quickly and efficiently until professional medical care arrives. Make sure to check in on the individual frequently and monitor their condition.
It is always best to err on the side of caution when it comes to falls and head injuries, and contact emergency services if you have any concerns. Taking prompt action can be the difference between life and death in serious situations, so do not hesitate to seek help whenever necessary.
What Are 2 Common Reasons For Falls In Elderly Adults?
The two most common reasons for falls among the elderly are poor balance and muscle weakness.
Imbalance is often caused by age-related changes in the body that make it more difficult to control movements, such as a decrease in vision or hearing, and a decrease in strength and flexibility.
Poor balance can be improved by doing exercises that target areas of weakness, such as walking, balance exercises, stretching, or yoga.Muscle weakness is another common cause of falls in elderly adults.
Age-related muscle loss can make it difficult to move quickly or with coordination, making it harder to steady oneself when standing or walking. To help prevent falls, elderly adults should focus on improving their strength and balance through resistance exercises such as weight lifting, squats, lunges, and planks.
Additionally, regular physical activity can help to improve overall health and well-being which can reduce the risk of falls due to dizziness or other age-related ailments.
Walking, balance exercises, stretching, and yoga are all great ways for elderly adults to stay active and reduce their risk of falls.
Being safe at home should always be top priority for everyone. If you want to prevent falls, there are a number of simple changes that you can make in your lifestyle that will help reduce the risk of accidents or injuries related to falling.
We hope these 24 tips have helped educate and motivate you to take action on safety precautions around your house.