If you ask a cross-section of the population what the top cause of death and physical harm is for seniors, most would answer illness. However, according to the national Center for Disease Control (CDC), the main reason is falls, many exacerbated by brittle bones and other health problems.
Many factors contribute to seniors falling down. The major ones include an unsteady gait due to medications, chronic pain and poor eyesight. Reducing the risk of falls is easy, and most precautions are easy to provide and free or very cost-effective. If you go room-by-room and then check outdoor areas, flooring, and lighting, you can make significant changes easily and quickly.
Keep as many items as possible cabinet height or lower. This eliminates the high risk of falls from chairs, boxes or stepstools needed to get to out-of-reach articles.
Hang clothes on closet rods low enough to access without straining or stretching. Install lightweight rails on the sides of beds to prevent falling from beds and provide support when getting in and out of bed.
A shower chair radically boosts the safety of bathing and showering. A hand-held shower with a long hose makes bathing easier and safer and often eliminates the need for personal assistance. Grab bars and adhesive traction enhancements reduce the chance of falling. Installing a toilet surround on the commode adds stability and peace of mind.
Basements and Attics
These rooms are typically small and cluttered. Avoiding them is best but if right of entry is important, make sure the areas are well lit with easy-to-reach light switches, and stairways are steady and include solid railing.
Fresh air and sunshine are important for the physical and mental health of everyone. However, shade is important, especially for seniors who often become dizzy if overheated. Awnings and deck umbrellas are easy solutions.
Yards and Landscaping
The most common risks outside are holes in the ground and gnarly roots that cause falls. Fill in the holes or cover them and exposed roots with decorative tables or other yard ornaments that remove those hazards from walking paths.
Stairways and Steps
Make sure stairs and steps are brightly lit from top to bottom, and improve visibility and traction on edges with easily applied non-slip strips.
For all ages, one of the biggest deterrents to falls is adequate lighting. Hallways indoors and out are safer when low level lights near the ground or baseboards are installed and they add a touch of elegance to the decor. Making them motion sensitive ensures they come on every time a person enters the area. Timed outdoor lights eliminate the need to remember to turn them on each evening. Remote control lighting lets seniors illuminate a room before they venture in. Lamps with one-touch controls on the base are easier to operate than ones with hard to access switches.
Even the smallest spill on floors creates a slipping or falling risk. Caregivers should periodically check the floors in all rooms for spills or tripping perils like shoes or other objects. Avoid throw rugs or area rugs with exposed edges. Secure necessary rugs in bathrooms and kitchens with rubber backing that keeps them securely in place.
If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation. Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.
Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care, Bed & Wheelchair Transfer Assistance, Companionship, Housekeeping & Meal Preparation, Personal Care, Recovery Care, and Transportation.