Friday, June 21, 2024

Elderly Fall Prevention

Senior Safety and Fall Prevention a couple at home

As our parents age, remaining independent becomes very important – and safety becomes a number one priority. Everyone’s situation is so different – whether your elderly loved one lives alone or with a spouse, or has chronic illnesses or frailty related to natural aging processes. So, there is not a “one-size-fits-all” plan for providing a safe and healthy environment. One thing many seniors do have in common is a desire to stay in their own homes as long as they can. It is the most popular and affordable option for many.

Falls and Safety

Yet, when we age, we can lose our stability and poise – which makes falling more likely. In fact, 35-40% of seniors over 65 fall at least once a year and seek medical attention. That is one out of three! Two thirds of those falls are happening in the home. Falls are more damaging to older people too. For those over 65 years old who suffer a hip fracture – 60% of these seniors are discharged to a nursing home. Our likelihood of having bone loss that can increase hip fracture is higher as we age – particularly for women.

Home Modification

AARP findings showed that 70% of seniors have made at least one modification to their homes and half believe that the simple change will allow them to stay in their homes for about 10 more years.

Seniors are staying in their homes longer than the generation behind them. The result is seniors of increasingly older age are living in older homes and therefore run even a higher risk for falls.  Doing a thorough safety check and making some modest and inexpensive changes can significantly improve your loved one’s ability to remain independent longer.

While falls can lead to permanent disability, most are preventable.  There are two things to consider when preventing accidents: 1) Things the family member can do - and 2) the physical nature of the home.

Things Your Elderly Family Member can Do to Stay Safe:

  1. Schedule periodic eye exams: Ensure that his or her eyes are checked regularly and make sure that eye prescriptions are up to date, in good repair and worn.

  2. Discourage drinking alcohol – especially when he or she is alone or if there are any interactions between alcohol and medications being taken.

  3. Keep them exercising – regular exercise can help with coordination and strength to keep falling to a minimum

  4. Use mobility assistance if needed - (canes, walkers, etc.). If your loved one naturally leans on the furniture to help him or her get up or remain stable while walking – it is time to think about canes and walkers.

  5. Good Shoes - Think about investing in good shoes with supportive, robber-soled low heels and good traction.

  6. Help your loved one remember to not rush – this is often when accidents happen – when rushing to get the phone, cross the street, etc.

  7. Talk to your doctor - about all prescriptions and if any cause particular increased risk of falling.

  8. Tackle normal dizziness - Certain types of dizziness occurs when a person stands up from a seated position. If a person clenches hands and wiggles toes prior to getting up – it can reduce this type of dizziness.

Home Modification Tips to Prevent Falls and Accidents:

See our downloadable checksheet for evaluating a home for safety and fall prevention. This tool is a great way to begin the conversation about small changes that may need to be made to decrease the likelihood of preventable accidents in the home.

  1. De-Clutter – simplify the home and make it neat and orderly. Look for low lying tripping hazards like electrical cords and remove unnecessary items and/or debris. Remove items in the home that are in need of repair or about to break – especially furniture that may collapse if leaned on for support. Arrange items in cupboards so they can be reached without needing a step-stool.

  2. Use nightlights and ensure good lighting inside and out.

  3. Repair any broken or worn fixtures or flooring

  4. Make sure rugs are stable and not slipping or sticking up. Taping rugs down or using a non-stick pad under the rug can help.

  5. Be careful on tile, marble, or polished flooring and place non-skid mats down to enable safe passage.

  6. Make sure handrails are on stairs and if possible, near the toilet and tub.

  7. Turn the water heater down if the hot water is over 120 degrees

  8. Use bright tape to mark any uneven floor surface or steps if the person has trouble seeing the difference in level.

  9. Use some power failure lighting to enable some light in the event of a power outage. Working flashlights are also helpful.

  10. Make sure all fire alarms are in working order and that you have a fire extinguisher near the stove/oven.

Other Safety Related Home Modifications and Ideas for Seniors

  • Replace cabinet knobs with pull bars.

  • Replace door handles with the lever style handles.

  • Change out faucets for easier grab handles.

  • Elevate the toilet seat.

  • Lower the level of the bed. The bed should only be as high as necessary.

  • Install a hand held or slider shower nozzle.

  • Increase bulb wattage (but do not use more than the recommended wattage)

  • Night-lights, especially hallway and stairs. Look for lighted canes or walkers

  • Safety treads for stairs

  • Maintain a bulletin board with emergency contact information, medications and health conditions.   A tub/ shower chair.

  • Switch out Straight razors with electrical ones.

  • Get rid of Loose fitting shoes or slippers and be sure new ones have a non-slip sole.

  • Replace small number phones with large, lighted phones. A cordless phone will also help with mobility issues    


Senior Health
Download the Home Safety Checklist

Preventing Falls in Older Adults - Built by Easy Climber

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