Fall Prevention Strategies for Seniors
Most adults don’t give much thought about their balance until they experience a fall. Yet, the average person’s sense of balance begins to decline between the ages of 40 and 50 years. The likelihood of falling only increases with age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one out of four adults over the age of 65 experience a fall each year. Less than half who experience a fall admit so to their doctor.
Falls are a serious threat to the health of older adults. They can result in hip fractures, cuts, or serious head and brain injuries. The CDC reports that every 20 minutes, an older adult dies because of a fall. For the lucky few who fall and are left unharmed, the experience alone leaves them feeling afraid. This fear of falling again causes many older adults to avoid certain activities.
Falls are most likely to occur at home. This makes sense as most older adults tend to practice caution when out and about in their community. At home, however, they develop a false sense of security. They take greater risks, such as leaving their walker in the other room. Pets are another risk factor for falls. Dogs and cats can jump or move unpredictably, causing an older adult to lose balance.
The good news is that, with a bit of planning, falls can be preventable. Here are five fall prevention strategies you can implement today to lower your risk of falling.
Remove Fall Hazards
The easiest and quickest way to prevent a fall at home is to remove potential fall hazards. Look around your home. Can you easily navigate from room to room? What’s preventing you from doing so? Remove clutter from common pathways, including the stairs. Repair loose carpet or uneven floorboards. Replace slippery throw rugs with rugs that have a non-slip backing or remove them altogether. If you use a walker or cane, rearrange furniture so that you can navigate while still holding on to your device.
Light Up the Home
Inadequate and poor lighting also leads to an increased risk of falling. Prevent falls by installing brighter light bulbs where needed, such as hallways and stairways. Add nightlights throughout the home, especially in bedrooms and bathrooms. Set certain lamps on timers so that rooms are adequately lit at the appropriate time of day. Install smart light bulbs or smart plugs that can turn on with the sound of your voice.
Plan Your Day
Stairs in the home present one of the greatest fall hazards in the home. Prevent a fall on the stairs by planning your day. Keep most of your everyday items on the main level of your home to avoid multiple trips upstairs and downstairs. Store an extra change of clothes or sweater to layer on your main level as well. Use a small bag or backpack to carry items from floor to floor, leaving your hands free to grab handrails. Remove throw rugs at the top and bottom of the stairs. Purchase additional assistive devices, such as a walker, cane, or reading glasses, and keep one on each level of your home.
Wear Non-Slip Shoes
Choose to wear shoes instead of socks around your home. While socks may be more comfortable, socks pose a fall risk. Shoes provide stability and grip. If you prefer a shoe-free home, purchase a pair of shoes that you only wear indoors. Make sure the shoes have a heel and fit securely around your feet. Look for shoes that are non-slip or slip-resistant.
Plan for Pets
Even the most well-behaved pet can be unpredictable. Pets often position themselves under their owner’s feet before their owner can see or hear them. They also tend to leave their toys scattered around the home, leaving their owners vulnerable to experiencing a fall. If you have pets at home, be sure to include them in your fall prevention strategies. Kennel them or secure them in a separate room when you’re doing household chores or preparing meals. Pick up their toys when you see them scattered around and definitely at the end of the day. Store the toys in a basket and place the basket out of the main pathway to avoid trips and falls.
Even when all the above strategies are implemented, falls can still occur. Fortunately, Visiting Angels of Santa Clarita is here to help. Our compassionate caregivers can step in and assist you as you get back on your feet. Whether you need help with personal care or light housekeeping or want someone to escort you as you run errands to ensure your safety, we can create a custom senior care plan that addresses your specific concerns. To get started with home care provided by Visiting Angels of Santa Clarita, please get in touch with us today by calling 661-263-2273.