There is nothing more important than slip and fall prevention when providing elderly care. Fall risk prevention means making the home or living environment as safe as possible for a parent, grandparent or any elderly person. According to the CDC, traumatic brain injuries resulting from falls caused roughly 8,000 deaths and 56,000 hospitalizations in the past three years. The risks of women suffering from fall fractures is alarming, with nearly 72% of seniors admitted to hospitals for hip fractures being women. Those who fall three or four times a year are most likely to be admitted to a long-term care facility with permanent disabilities, while men who fall are more likely to die as a result. Many seniors who fall never go home again and are placed in care facilities, and many are relegated to a wheelchair for the remainder of his or her life. Those numbers, coupled with the number of fall risk hazards found in the common home, result in thousands of hospitalizations every year.
According to the CDC, the average cost for health care as the result of a fall totals $19,440 (excluding doctor's fees). How do you go about initiating fall prevention in the home? Take a good look at your parent or grandparent's house or their living environment. Remember that a fall prevention program, whether it's initiated in the home, a hospital or a nursing home, will help reduce catastrophic injuries, surgeries and medical expenses.
Look at every object as a potential hazard to safety and do what you can to adapt the home to make it more senior-friendly and fall-proof. Such home modifications might be as simple as replacing light bulbs to installing grab bars in the shower or tub area.
Preventing Falls in the Bathroom
Fall prevention research finds that most falls occur in the bathroom and the kitchen area of the home. Home modifications in these rooms may help to reduce the risk of accidents through a series of fall prevention interventions:
- Shower grab bar installation is a must – provide bathroom grab bars in and around the shower or bathtub as well as near the toilet.
- When necessary, install a raised toilet seat to make getting on and off the toilet much easier.
- Place non-skid mats in front of and in the tub and shower area.
- Non-skid stickers should be placed on the floor of shower stalls or on the bottom of the bathtub.
Preventing Falls in the Kitchen
Fall prevention programs initiated by many county health departments or community services offer information on how to make the most popular room in the house – the kitchen – safe for elderly residents.
- Ensure that everything your elderly parent or grandparent needs is within easy reach. He or she should not have to stand on step stools or benches to reach foodstuffs, appliances or cooking utensils.
- Remove throw rugs or mats that may cause trip and fall hazards.
- Ensure that floors are kept clean and free of spills or grease.
- Move tables, chairs, wastebaskets, cords or other objects that may cause trips and spills to the edges of the room and away from typical pathways.
Preventing Falls in the Living Room
Remove clutter from every room in the house, especially the living room. Old newspapers, books and magazines are often difficult to see and cause potential falls and accidents.
- Remove furniture that bulges out into a much-used path.
- Remove loose throw rugs that can catch on walking canes, walkers and rollators, and shoes.
- Remove unused furniture that forces an elderly person to carefully navigate a pathway from one room to another Bottom Line Home fall prevention saves money, reduces accidents and fall risks.
Family members or friends of an elderly person should address fall prevention in the home as soon as possible. Don't wait for an accident before you provide a safe living environment for your loved one.