With alarming statistics like “1 in 4 seniors will experience a fall each year,” it’s pertinent that older adults and their family and caregivers get serious about fall prevention. The National Council on Aging shares that 3 seniors die from a fall every minute and most falls occur in or around the home, making the home living environment the first line of defense in preventing falls and life-threatening injuries. Check out these 8 home upgrades for fall prevention today:
When it comes to traversing tricky environments like stairways and steps, safety rails can go a long way to providing the balance support and stability an elderly adult with mobility issues may need. Many falls surprisingly happen right outside the home on the porch or deck of a house. Safety rails outside are even more important as outside surfaces can become slick with rain, ice, and snow.
Sturdy, reinforced bars which attach to things like shower walls or a handicap toilet are often made of aluminum or some other heavy duty material. They are typically easy to install and offer a wide-grip surface for an older adult to hold onto when going through weight-bearing motions like sitting down on the toilet or stepping into the shower or bath.
All the thought about helping seniors maintain balance and coordination may seem to revolve around their own mobility and strength, but in fact, their ability to see plays an important role too. Lighting which is accessible and consistent from room to room can help an older adult with degrading vision have an easier time getting around their home and seeing potential trip hazards.
If you or your loved one do have a history of falling, falls mats may be a good addition to the home. Fall mats can be placed beside common rest areas like beds and sofas. They provide extra cushioning in the event of a fall, potentially lessening the severity of injuries. Fall mats also alert caregivers when a fall happens so they can rush to assist their loved ones.
Clearing clutter and trip hazards is much more than opening up walkways around the home. Even simple items like area rugs can be hazardous when their curled up corners catch your foot. Large pieces of furniture can also create unnecessary obstacles which an older adult might lose their balance on trying to avoid. Cords as well from a landline, computer, vacuum, etc., can seem harmless pushed up against a wall, but can easily trip someone up.
Ramps and lifts
In the event of a senior requiring a mobility aid like a walker or wheelchair to get around, ramps and lifts can prove to be empowering add-ons to a home. Ramps that lead up to outside doorways can cover steps and stairways which are hard to impossible to ascend with some mobility aids, and stair or bath lifts which a senior can sit in and mechanically get lifted up stairs or into a bath can make it easier to keep up with daily tasks.
One of the leading factors of immobility is often a condition brought on in part by inactivity. Exercise equipment as simple as lightweight dumbbells or resistance bands is a must for older adults aging in place. Routine fitness can help to build bone density and enhance muscle strength and tone, all of which lend themselves towards greater agility, balance, and coordination and thusly, help prevent falls.
In addition to grab bars and toilet seat raisers with safety rails, additional upgrades can make the most fall-prone room in the house, the bathroom, safer. Shower seats, handheld shower heads, nonslip bath mats, even a walk-in shower instead of a bath/shower with a tall side can equip older adults with the support and stability they need to be able to bathe themselves with less risk of falling.
Another big risk factor for falling is dizzying side effects from medicines which can lead to drops in blood pressure or loss of balance. In addition to enhancing the home environment to prevent falls, seniors and their loved ones should have in-depth discussions about medicinal side effects with their doctor and anything else they should be on the lookout for when it comes to preventing falls.