There is a wealth of information and statistics on the internet about how harmful a simple thing like a fall can be to an aging adult. But a colorful brochure or chart doesnít replace the experience of having a loved one fall in their own home in what should be a safe environment. Take a closer look at those brochures and really pay attention. A simple fall can be life-altering in more ways than one. And itís an experience most people would prefer to skip.
Falls are the most common of all accidental injuries to adults over the age of 65. One in three seniors is injured due to a fall. And falls are the sixth leading cause of death to the elderly. Prevention is the single best way to handle falls. It may seem an impossible task to prevent all falls, but awareness, education, and observation could lessen the likelihood and help keep ourselves and our favorite seniors on their feet.
Prevention of falls takes several forms. Exercise can help strengthen frail legs and improve balance. Medications and vision problems can be assessed by doctors and pharmacists. A home safety assessment can prevent many falls and should be done by everyone.
Homes are often assessed for the needs of the elderly, wheelchair bound citizen. But most of our seniors are not in wheelchairs. That one backdoor step without a handrail can be more hazardous then a half-dozen steps with a solid handrail to grab for support. Here are some easy tips to make the home a safer environment and help prevent falls:
- Wear rubber-soled shoes or slippers for extra traction.
- Remove throw rugs that can slip out beneath you.
- Remove clutter from floors and keep wide, clear pathways throughout the home.
- Place sturdy handrails on all steps.
- Inspect outdoor stairs and pathways for broken spots or holes. Have them repaired.
- Install grip rails in the shower and beside the toilet. Use rubber mats or strips in the tub.
- Use nightlights to light a path to the bathroom. Turn on bright lights when walking down the hall or on stairways.
- Place flashlights next to the bed and near the telephone.
- Place the address in an easy to read size near the phone so calls to 911 are easier with no mix-ups to the location.
Think about the home and the environment on a regular basis to keep it safe. But donít allow a fear of falling to keep anyone from doing activities that will keep them moving. Exercise and movement strengthen the body and add to the quality of life as people age. Find out more and become an advocate for fall prevention and safety in your neighborhood. You could make a real difference in someoneís life.