Updated February 15, 2021 – A common fear amongst seniors is falling at home.
According to the World Health Organization, falls are one of the leading causes of emergency visits of people over 65 years of age. In fact, falls are the primary reason for injuries in the elderly.
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
Fall Prevention Checklist For Elderly And Caregivers
Use these 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, exercise can also improve the body’s mobility and flexibility and helps lessen the symptoms of arthritis, which again reduces the chances of falling. Even if you walk with a cane or a walker – exercising can help greatly.
- 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.
- 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 and wearing any needed glasses or contact lenses can decrease the risk of falls.
- Be mindful of medications. Some prescription drugs may cause drowsiness or dizziness, which can increase the risk of falls for seniors.
- 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 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.
- Non slip socks for seniors (like my elderly mother) who insist on wearing socks instead of shoes in their home. There are a large variety of non slip socks for both men and women to choose from.
- Ensure there are enough lights throughout the home. Well lit living areas can help to prevent someone from bumping or tripping over something.
- 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.
- Use alert devices. Whether you use a medical alert device or Alexa 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.
Although there is no 100% surefire way to prevent falling and still living your life – these tips can certainly help to minimize the risks that are so often associated with older adults falling in their homes.