As people age, what used to be a minor stumble or trip can easily turn into a life-altering injury. Because falls can be very dangerous, knowing how to prevent them is an important part of helping older adults maintain independence and safety.
Ensuring that the home environment is safe is the first step to prevent senior falls. Our caregivers recommend implementing the following strategies in order to enhance safety in and around the home.
- Add light indoors and outside – The first line of defense to help aging adults avoid a fall is to make sure there is adequate lighting in and around the home. Do this by adding nightlights to areas such as bathrooms, stairwells, or long hallways that may not receive a lot of natural light. Also, make sure it’s easy for seniors to have access to light wherever they are in the home. This may mean adding lamps beside their bed or the couch and ensuring that they have easy access to flashlights if needed. Outside, be sure that walkways, stairs, and porches have working lights. Ideally, the outside lights will be turned on via a motion sensor, helping ensure these areas are well lighted anytime the older adult enters or exits the home in the evening or early morning hours.
- Remove fall hazards – When it comes to preventing senior falls, the fewer obstacles in the house, the better. Removing potential fall hazards can help greatly in enhancing safety and can make aging adults’ living spaces much easier and less stressful to navigate. Minimize obstructions such as extension cords, boxes, or clutter around the home. Also consider removing coffee tables or bulky furniture from high traffic areas. Remove any throw rugs around the home which may cause an older adult to trip or slip.
- Keep the shoes sensible – Aging doesn’t mean that seniors have to lose their sense of style, of course, but the best fashion statement is both safe and manageable! As people age, heels, slip-on shoes, and floppy slippers may not be the safest option anymore. Prioritize footwear that offers great traction and support, and look for shoes that fit securely on a senior’s feet. Wearing sturdy, sensible shoes may also reduce joint pain.
- Use assistive devices – Everyday tasks can become more hazardous as people age. Check that handrails are securely installed on both sides of indoor and outdoor stairwells. In the bathroom, install grab bars in the bathtub and add a shower chair. Place frequently used toiletries within easy reach and add nonslip mats inside and outside of the bathtub. Adding a raised toilet seat can help older adults remain safe and independent. In the kitchen and in closets throughout the home, move regularly-used items within easy reach so that the older adult does not need to reach for items on high shelves or use a step ladder.
In addition to these easy-to-implement measures that help reduce senior fall hazards, it’s important for older adults to take the following steps:
- Get physical! – It’s extremely important to maintain mobility throughout the aging process. Implementing physical activity into a senior’s daily routine helps build strength, balance, and coordination, which helps reduce fall risk.
- Talk to a healthcare provider – Encourage older adults to make and keep appointments with their healthcare provider for regular physicals. During the appointment, ask the physician to review any prescription and nonprescription medications that may cause dizziness or disorientation. Additionally, speak with the doctor about any previous falls or overall health concerns that could lead to an increased fall risk.
If you are caring for an aging adult and would like additional tips on how to prevent senior falls, Abrio Home Care can help! Our caregivers offer a variety of in-home care services to help ensure older adults maintain independence and safety. Contact us online or at 877-71-ABRIO for more information about respite care in Prescott and the surrounding areas. For a full list of all of the communities where we provide care, please visit our Locations page.