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Fall Prevention Awareness: The Importance of Home Safety Steps

CEO and co-founder of Senior Helpers

With the holidays around the corner, many families will welcome elderly loved ones. But did you know your home could be dangerous for seniors? In fact, the home is the most common place people take a fatal fall. One out of three adults age 65 and older falls each year—and this week alone, more than 30,000 Americans over the age of 65 will be seriously injured from a fall.

Did You Know?
In 2008, 82 percent of fall deaths were among people 65 and older.
In 2008, more than 19,700 older adults died from unintentional fall injuries.
Fall-related fractures occur more than twice the rate for older women than for older men.
More than 90 percent of hip fractures are caused by falls, and white women have significantly higher hip fracture rates than black women.
Direct medical costs of falls equaled $28.2 billion last year alone.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mayo Clinic

Nearly a third of those who survive that fall will be forced to live with injuries that will affect their independence the rest of their lives, such as hip fractures or head traumas. Those types of injuries from falls not only make it hard for seniors to live independently, but those injuries can sometimes be fatal.

Compounding the problem, when seniors fall, they usually develop a fear of falling, even if they’re not injured. That fear can easily turn into a senior choosing to limit their physical activity which in turn increases their risk of falling again.

For these reasons, fall prevention is essential, and professional caregivers play a vital role, both in helping seniors prevent falls and cope with fall-related fears they may already have.

Whether you live in the same town as your loved one or across the country, local Senior Helpers’ caregivers can help fall-proof your home for visits as well as your loved one’s home for safer living, providing families with the comfort that someone is watching over their senior members and helping make sure they’re living in a safe environment.

Here are tasks a home care professional can provide to prevent falls in a senior’s home. When a senior is coming to visit you, these steps can be taken to look out for their well-being and make your home safer, too:

Safety-Proofing The Home

  • Remove boxes, newspapers and electrical cords from halls
  • Move coffee tables, magazine racks and plants stands from high-traffic areas
  • Help repair loose, wooden floor boards and carpeting right away
  • Store clothing, dishes, food, medication and all necessities within reach

Adding Safety Devices

  • Hand rails for both sides of the bed
  • Non-slip treads for wooden steps
  • Raised toilet seat or one with arm rests
  • Grab bars for shower or tub
  • Sturdy plastic seat for shower or tub plus hand-held shower nozzle

Checking Seniors’ Shoes

  • Get rid of high heels, floppy slippers and shoes with slick soles
  • Have foot size measured each time seniors buy shoes – foot size changes and shoes that are too big can lead to falls
  • Avoid extra-thick soles

Lighting Up Living Spaces

  • Place night lights in bedroom, bathroom and hallways
  • Place lamp near side of bed
  • Consider switching traditional light switches for glow in the dark switches

Exercising Regularly

  • Help seniors with activities that increase leg strength and improve balance, such as Tai Chi.

Taking Seniors For Eye Check-ups

  • Make sure seniors have their eyes checked by a doctor at least once a year and have their eyeglasses updated as needed.
  • A good tip: consider getting the senior a pair with single vision distance lenses for activities such as walking outside.

Review Medications

  • Have a doctor or pharmacist review all medications—over the counter and prescriptions—to let them know what might cause side effects, such as dizziness or drowsiness.