Did you know that falling is the greatest cause of injury among seniors? And that most falls occur at home? For many seniors with limited mobility, the fear of falling can cause them to limit activity. This may be both bad for health—as it means less movement—as well as unnecessary. If the right precautions are taken, seniors can enjoy freely moving about their homes without fear of fall risk.
So, what can you do to make your home safer?
Something to Hold On To
If you or a senior in your care has begun to decrease activity around the house, try to determine if a fear of falling is the reason. If so, consider putting up handrails along common walkways and particularly risky areas such as the bathroom. Also, a walker or cane may be a solution when out of the house.
A common cause of falls is insufficient lighting. Especially at night, if trying to get up without waking others, a senior may be at risk. Consider installing nightlights, or better yet, motion sensor lighting. This way no one need trip while searching for the lightswitch.
Stay Clutter Free
This tip may seem obvious, but preventing falls is a good reason to declutter your home. Though it may seem an overwhelming task, you can always start small. Make sure the most common walkways are clear first, and then go from there, getting rid of unnecessary things and putting the things you must keep in out of the way places.
Dress for Success
Many may overlook that their clothing can present a fall risk. Loose or baggy clothes may get caught on door handles or furniture, or may get caught under foot. Clothes don’t need to be tight, but fit close enough that they aren’t likely to trip you up.
Watch Your Step
While footwear is key (it’s a good idea to keep shoes on around the house), flooring is also important. Old carpets, slick tile or hardwood floors, wet bathtubs—all can have anyone tripping or slipping. There is no need to change all the flooring though, just put down non-slip mats.
This tip may seem contradictory—doesn’t more movement mean more opportunity for a fall? Not necessarily. Getting more exercise, within your own ability of course, can build strength, increase coordination, and decrease fall risk.
Whether you or a senior in your care is at risk of falling, communication is key. Perhaps the greatest danger with a fall is if you are alone, injured, and unable to get help. Take extra precautions when alone, such as keeping a phone in your pocket or having a neighbor check in regularly if you will be by yourself for an extended period of time.