As we age our bodies go through many changes. Our hair begins to gray, wrinkles begin to appear, and many times we become weaker. With these changes, sometimes that means we no longer have control over our balance, causing us to lose control and fall. Many times a fall can cause a serious injury sending many seniors to the emergency room each year. The CDC reports that 1 out of 3 people over the age of 65 fall each year. If you are still able to live at home, there are ways to make your home safer to prevent falls.
LIVING ROOM & COMMON AREAS
There are several tips to making your home safer for Seniors. Start by arranging your furniture to make wider, clear walking spaces between each piece of furniture. If you use a walker or cane, it can easily get stuck on a loose rug or on a sofa leg or chair. Get rid of any loose area rugs or secure them with double sided tape. Secure cords along the walls to avoid unnecessary tripping. Remove any unnecessary furniture and decorations such as baskets, magazine racks, and large potted plants. These items can easily cause a senior to bump into them and cause them to lose their balance and cause a fall. Many times seniors with poor vision often bump into furniture and cause minor to serious injuries. Adding more light to each room and hallways can help prevent these injuries.
KITCHEN & BATHROOMS
To make your kitchen a safer environment, place more frequently used items on lower easy to access shelves. Have a loved one assist you in placing items you rarely use on higher shelves. If you require a step stool to reach higher shelves, purchase a sturdy step stool with a handle bar for balance support. Use a non-slip rug in front of your sink to prevent slipping on water that may fall on the floor while washing dishes. In your bathrooms, install a non-slip shower mat or adhesive strips to your tub and shower floors. Add sturdy handrails in the tub, shower and next to the toilets. A rug with non-slip backings on tile or wood floors will help to prevent slipping when getting out of the shower.
Keep the bedroom free from clutter and reorganize the closet for easy access to clothing and shoes. Only keep the necessary furniture and lighting needed for comfort. Add bed rails to the bed to assist with getting in and out of bed with ease. Make sure that any lamps in the room are close enough to reach without having to get out of bed to turn them on and off. Keep a night stand or side table close enough to the bed to keep all control remotes, a pitcher of water with a drinking glass and an area to keep your loved one’s reading glasses and telephone for emergencies. Another helpful tip is to keep a clear, well lit path from the bed to the bathroom to avoid stumbling while going to the bathroom during the night.
BACK YARD AND PATIOS
To ensure safety throughout your home, you also have to ensure that your back yard, patios and front yard are just as safe. Light up the paths and steps, if any that lead to your front and back doors. Repair any buckled concrete on your driveway, path and porch. Apply the same non-slip material to the path and steps that you applied to your stairs, walk ways or halls inside.
OTHER HELPFUL TIPS
To help you stay safe and avoid falls it is important to maintain in good shape and improve your coordination and balance with daily exercise. Know which medications make you feel dizzy and discuss your options with your health care provider. Like with many other things in life, always be prepared and keep your cell phone in your pocket or your emergency pendant around your neck just in case you do happen to fall. Having either one of those with you when and if you do suffer a fall can be life saving assistance and will get help faster to you. Sometimes the best thing to do if you live alone at home is to downsize to a smaller home, a senior apartment, or a retirement community.