Improving Senior Home Safety & Avoiding Falls
Each year, millions of seniors fall. But did you know that more than one out of four older people falls each year, and less than half tell their doctor? Falling once doubles your chances of falling again.
Brain Injury Awareness Month, in February, is a good time for seniors and their caregivers to do what they can to keep the home safe from falls—helping both groups avoid trips to the hospital.
As a caregiver or family member, you want to do everything possible to prevent falls from happening at home–especially if your loved one has had a previous brain injury or stroke that affects mobility and balance (such as Parkinson’s disease). Here are some tips for improving home safety.
Clear Walking Paths
Keeping your home clear of clutter is an important step in improving home safety for seniors.
Clutter can be dangerous because it can hide obstacles – such as throw rugs, piles of clothes and loose wires – or it can become an obstacle itself. Do what you can to keep the house tidy so your senior loved one can easily walk through the house without having to step over things.
If there is clutter that you cannot get rid of, try putting it in a place where it will not interfere with walking paths. For example, if your loved one’s bedroom has a lot of furniture in it, consider moving some items out so there is more room for walking around.
Another great way to help your loved one navigate their home better is by using a night light to illuminate dark areas. This can make your loved one feel more secure when walking around at night or early morning hours, especially if there isn’t much natural light coming through windows. This will help them avoid tripping over anything on the floor.
The bathroom is one place where you should pay special attention to your aging loved one’s safety. Installing shower seats and non-skid mats in their tub can help prevent falls when they are getting ready in the morning, or after taking a shower or bath at night, and help them maintain their independence for longer periods of time.
If your loved one has an especially difficult time getting around, you may want to consider installing grab bars in the bathroom as well. These will help them feel more secure and prevent them from falling. If you notice that they are struggling with balance or have other mobility issues, it might be a good idea to install these items sooner rather than later.
Keep Staircases Clear
Not all homes have stairs, but for those who do, it is important to keep them clear and free of obstacles. You should try to avoid placing items near staircases that may cause your loved one to trip or fall.
Clear the area of small, loose items including shoes, slippers, bags – even rugs! Rugs are actually one of the most common causes of falls in the home. They can be a tripping hazard, especially if someone is walking barefoot or wearing slippers. If you have a small rug, it may be best to remove it altogether.
Install a handrail on both sides of the stairs, if possible, to assist with balance when going up or down them. If your loved one needs frequent assistance getting up and down your stairs regularly, you may want to consider having an electric stair lift installed in their home as well.
Store the Most Used Items in Easy to Reach Areas
If you are the caregiver of a senior, one of the best ways to ensure that they are safe in their own home is by making sure that they know where everything is. This can be difficult because there are many seniors have trouble with mobility and vision problems.
To make things easier, store the most used items in lower cabinets so that they’re at eye level when your loved one is standing up (this will help them avoid having to bend over or use a step stool).
Use baskets and containers to organize items within each cabinet, which makes it easier for them to find what they need without having all of their groceries spread out across every shelf like an episode of Hoarders. Label all containers with permanent marker, in large, easy to read lettering, so that anyone who uses this space knows where everything goes.
Make sure that you close the cabinet doors when you are done using them, so that your loved one does not have to worry about running into an open cabinet.
Clean Up Spills Immediately
Though often overlooked, spills are a common problem for seniors, especially if they have trouble getting around or staying upright. You should make sure that you clean up spills immediately to prevent them from becoming serious hazards.
It may be a small thing, but it can make a big difference in the long run. Remember that every day is a chance to show your loved one that you care about them and their safety!
Keeping your loved one’s home safe is important for all, but it’s especially important if you have a senior loved one who lives alone. Seniors are at risk for falls, brain injuries and so much more if they are in an environment that is not safe. It’s up to you to make sure that they are taken care of and have the tools they need to stay safe at home.
Consider how you could make changes around the house that would make it easier for him or her to get around safely. And don’t forget to visit often—if there are any problems, you’ll notice them before they become serious issues!
If you are interested in learning more about how we can help keep your loved one’s home safe, or have questions about any of our care services, please feel free to contact us today. We would be happy to speak with you and answer any questions that you may have!
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