Aging can cause a multitude of changes. Some may be positive, like you’ve retired and have more free time to spend with friends and family or to explore hobbies. However, changes in health, vision, and mobility can all contribute to struggles with aging and can lead to an increased risk of falls for seniors. Falls are the primary cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries to Americans over the age of 65, and according to the CDC nearly every second of each day a senior adult will fall. Since falls are one of the most common injuries seniors experience it’s a priority to know the risks and take steps to reduce them.
Since most falls happen in or around the home, here are some primary areas that you should focus on to reduce the risk of falls.
- Stairways: Stairs are a common location for falls and can result in dangerous injuries for older adults, especially those struggling with impaired strength, motor function, and balance. Stairs require a significant number of cognitive-resources, and older adults may face changes in their cognition as they age, leading to falls on the stairs. Sturdy handrails, non-slip step coverings, and good lighting can make stairs safer for seniors.
- Living Rooms: Generally, living rooms are where seniors and their families spend most of their time. Bulky or awkwardly placed furniture may be a hinderance when navigating the home. Leaving room between furniture pieces and locating furniture so it can be used for physical support adds a way to get around the living room without falling. Removing any unused furniture and clutter can also help clear up space.
- Bathrooms: Up to 80% of the falls in the home occur in the bathroom. Bathroom floors may be slick, surfaces may be wet, the space is small, and it may be hard to step over tub walls. Installing non-stick skid mats in the bath and shower can prevent slipping, as well as installing grab bars to make it easier to get in and out. A shower chair with a non-slip seat and rubber tips is also an option to help prevent slips and falls. A raised toilet seat with grab bars can help reduce the effort needed to use the toilet. Regular cleaning will also prevent buildup and residue which can make surfaces slippery.
- Driveways and Sidewalks: Falls on concrete or pavement are especially dangerous to seniors as they increase the risk of head injury. Walkways and driveways should be well-lit with motion-activated lights and installing a handrail can help increase path safety. If there are bushes or shrubs surrounding the walkway, it’s important to keep them trimmed away to provide a safer path.
- Bedrooms: The height of the bed, or the nature of a mattress can make it difficult for seniors to support themselves and remain steady as they stand up. Medical conditions and medication side effects could make them feel lightheaded or dizzy when standing. Many adults’ eyesight worsens, and they experience vision impairment, which can make them more prone to falling. Non-slip mats or rugs, safety rails, and lower bed frames can help provide a safer home environment. Even placing a walker by the side of the bed to use as support to stand can improve the safety of standing up from bed.
Recognizing the risks in your home and make improvements especially as you experience changes in mobility and strength is something that we can help you do. If you’re concerned about fall hazards and senior safety, give us a call at 585-787-0009 or email us at email@example.com today to learn more about how we can help.