One of the biggest fears for aging in place seniors is tripping and falling in their own home. In fact, one-in-four elderly Americans experience a serious fall every year, with many of those falls resulting in broken bones, hip fractures and head injuries. Those fall-related injuries oftentimes require lengthy hospitalizations and nursing home stays, and for some seniors it means giving up their independence for good. As an informal caregiver here are several ways to help your loved one reduce trip and fall hazards in the home.
Why Older Adults are More Fall-Prone
According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), accidental falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for elderly Americans every year.
In general, older adults are more likely to trip and fall because of:
- Poor vision
- Weakened bones and muscles
- Medications that cause drowsiness
- Loss of balance, joint flexibility and coordination
- Dementia, Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s
- Chronic health problems like heart disease, arthritis or diabetes
A fear of falling can also keep an elderly individual from leading an active lifestyle, which ultimately diminishes their quality of life and threatens their freedom and independence.
How to Keep Your Senior Safer
Thankfully, most falls in the home are preventable. Here are some ways to eliminate trip and fall hazards and keep your loved one safer:
Share your concerns
If you’ve noticed that your loved one lacks confidence while getting around, like grabbing onto objects for balance, sit down and share your concerns with them. Ask if they are afraid of falling and why, and then gently reassure them that you’re there to help.
Do a home safety assessment
Next, walk around your senior’s home and remove trip hazards like furniture, throw rugs and electrical cords. Also be sure that any pet care supplies are not in the way.
Other ways to make the home safer include:
- Stairways. All steps and stairways should be well-lit, have handrails on both sides, and highlighted with fluorescent tape on the top and bottom steps.
- Lighting. Increase the lighting around the home, especially in the hallways and above any stairs. Also be sure that the path from their bedroom to the bathroom is well illuminated in case they get up during the night.
- Bathroom. The bathroom can be a very dangerous place for seniors. Keep your loved one safer by installing grab bars near the toilet and in the tub/shower. It’s also wise to install a walk-in shower and get them a shower chair and hand-held wand. Place non-skid strips inside the tub and eliminate trip hazards like throw rugs and footstools.
Get their balance tested
Convince your senior to have a balance test done by a doctor or physical therapist. If they don’t pass discuss with their doctor what could be causing the problem, like medications or a chronic health condition. Based on what you’ve learned it might be time for your loved one to start using a cane or walker.
Schedule an eye exam
As the human eye ages its ability to detect trip hazards diminishes. Take your senior to the eye doctor for an examination, as a new set of prescription lenses may be all that’s needed. If your loved one wears glasses with tint-changing lenses, they should wait until they’ve turned clear again when entering a building after being outside. Bifocal lenses can also be problematic when negotiating stairs.
Encourage regular exercise
If mobility isn’t an issue, encourage your senior to exercise regularly by doing low-impact workouts like walking, water aerobics, Yoga or riding a stationary bike. That will strengthen their core muscles, improve joint flexibility and boost self-confidence- all of which will help prevent them from falling.
An Extended Family in Your Loved One’s Home
Preventing falls in your aging loved one’s home can be challenging when you’re not there. When you need a hand, contact Adultcare Assistance Homecare. As a locally owned home care agency with 20+ years of experience, our award-winning caregivers are professionally trained on the latest fall prevention guidelines. Our goal as a top-tier care provider in Arizona is helping seniors remain comfortably independent without having to be alone.
Families place their trust in our agency because we provide 24/7 on-call care supervisors, don’t require long-term contracts, and because we carefully screen all our caregivers in advance. To learn more about Adult Assistance Homecare, or to schedule a FREE consultation today for a senior in Phoenix, Sun City or Tucson, AZ, please visit us at: www.adultcareassistance.com!