Fall prevention for the elderly is a serious topic. Falling is one of the primary causes of unintentional injuries at home among seniors. According to the CDC, about a third of seniors who are over 65 years old fall each year. Falls frequently happen in the bathroom, shower or in slippery environments, but it can also happen through mis-steps on stools and ladders, stumbling on stairs, and tripping over certain items at home. You may also want to read our previous article, Causes Of Falling In The Elderly, for a background on why falls happen.
Falling is very dangerous for seniors because the event of an initial fall can trigger fears of experiencing further falls. This might cause them to limit their activities. An AAA research report from 2016 found that seniors who have fallen are 40% more likely to be involved in a car crash (more info). Falling can also lead to head injuries, fractures, soft tissue injuries, muscle breakdown, pressure sores and kidney damage.
Elderly Fall Prevention Checklist
Learning some fall prevention tips for the elderly is necessary in keeping them safe. Upon reaching your senior years, it is crucial to start researching. Here is a fall prevention checklist with techniques that can be implemented at home.
Regular physical activity is vital for seniors. Even if you are just at home, make sure to allow your body to move regularly. Gentle fall prevention exercises include walking, tai chi, water workouts and graceful and slow dance-like movements (more examples). This helps in reducing your risk of experiencing falls because these promote improved strength, flexibility, coordination and balance.
For physically stronger seniors, swimming is a good exercise to consider. According to a 2014 study, Swimming Can Help To Prevent Senior Falls.
2. Fall-Proof Your Home
Fall-proofing your home involves removing safety hazards from it. Improving or adding sufficient lighting is also necessary in preventing seniors from falling because of difficulty seeing objects. Installing grab bars and handrails and arranging items at home and storing them in a place where you can easily reach them is also beneficial. Strategically placing specially designed fall mats in places where falls are likely to occur offers protection should falls unfortunately happen.
3. Remove Clutter
Make your home as clutter-free as possible by removing unnecessary furniture and other unused objects. The furniture items that remain in your home should also be stable. Make sure that these are devoid of sharp corners to minimize injuries in case of accidental trips.
4. Use the Right Footwear
Wear a pair of shoes that properly fit and comes with non-skid holes. Stay away from high heels. It is also vital to tie your shoe laces. Another tip is to avoid walking in your stocking feet and wearing slippers that have already gone too loose or stretched out of their regular shape.
5. Maintain an Organized Kitchen
Effective fall prevention also involves organizing all the items in your kitchen. Removing throw rugs and cleaning up all liquids, food and grease spilled over your kitchen floor is also a must. Storing items for cooking and consumption such as food ingredients, cooking equipment and dishes in an easy to reach area is also helpful.
6. Improve the Safety of Your Bathroom
Use a slip-resistant rug in your bathroom and install grab bars into the wall. Make sure the bathroom has sufficient lighting when used. Adding a nightlight into your bathroom can also help. Replacing shower enclosures made of glass with non-shattering material can also reduce your risk of falling. Using a raised or special toilet seat featuring armrests can also help in enhancing your stability in the toilet.
7. Visit your Eye Doctor
Remember that poor vision or eyesight is one of the leading causes of falling in the elderly. This means that fall prevention in the elderly involves getting vision problems corrected. Visit your eye doctor regularly and use up to date prescription lens.
8. Manage Your Medications
Ask your pharmacist or doctor to review all the over-the-counter and prescription medications you are taking. This is helpful in identifying which ones trigger side effects like drowsiness and dizziness that often lead to falls.
9. Take Advantage of Devices Designed to Provide Assistance to the Elderly
These include handrails installed on the stairways, raised toilet seat, non-slip treads, grab bars installed in your tub or shower, and durable plastic seat for your tub or shower. Invest in these devices to make the process of moving easy for the elderly.
10. Make Sure that Your Bedroom is Well-Lit
This is one of the most important fall prevention in the home tips. Avoid getting up in the dark. A wise tip is to keep your light switch near your bed, so you can easily reach for it in case you want to get up at night. Hiding all loose extension cords in your bedroom is also beneficial in decreasing the risk of tripping over them.
In the next installment of the series, we will look into fall prevention products for the elderly.
What do you do to prevent falls from happening at home or outside? Do you have any tips on fall prevention to share? Leave us a comment below. It can help others.