Falling isn’t a normal part of aging, but falls are the leading cause of serious injuries among older adults. Caring Senior Service discusses the 3 most dangerous rooms for falls and shares simple fixes that reduce fall risk.
As the number of Americans choosing to age in place increases, so does the number of older adults who fall at home.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among older adults. The CDC also notes that $50 billion is spent on medical costs related to non-fatal fall injuries and $754 million is spent related to fatal falls
The most important thing to remember is that falling is not a normal part of aging. Falls are a symptom of homes that have not been modified to suit a population that is aging in place.
By taking a few safety precautions, we can reduce the number of falls and keep our loved ones healthy and happy at home.
To maximize senior fall prevention, we discuss the 3 most dangerous rooms and share simple fixes that reduce fall risk.
If your older adult lives in a two-story home, the risk of falling on a long staircase is probably apparent.
But, even if they live in a one-story home, there could be steps in other areas of the home that you might not consider when fall-proofing, like two steps going down to the living room.
And many houses have two or three steps heading to the porch or other steps in the yard or garden areas.
Ensuring that all the home’s stairs have handrails on both sides of the steps can help prevent falls.
In addition, it’s important to remove clutter from the staircase and glue or nail non-skid treads to the edges of the steps.
Ensuring that every staircase is properly lit also helps prevent missteps, which often result in falls.
Try some simple stick-on LED lights with motion sensors – they’re great for automatically illuminating stairs and walkways.
Outdoor staircases made of concrete can provide a challenge to seniors because they are targets for ice, are more prone to chipping (which can cause trips or stumbles), and can be harder to keep clear.
In addition to ensuring these staircases have handrails, you can also securely fasten non-skid aluminum, rubber or wooden treads to these types of steps to improve traction.
And, if they’re in an area that gets a lot of snow and ice during the winter, it’s essential to arrange for their outdoor steps to be shoveled and/or salted regularly.
The bathroom is one of the most used areas in any home and is a top location for falls because of how often it’s used.
Your older adult not only uses water in this room, but they are also often barefoot, which can reduce stability.
Add these risks on top of the fact that they are regularly going from a standing to a sitting position (and vice versa), and you have a fall waiting to happen.
When more than 230,000 people are injured in the bathroom each year, you can be assured that it can be a dangerous place for older Americans.
Keeping the bathroom floor free of clutter, adding self-adhesive non-slip treads to the bathtub, shower, and floors, and wiping up spilled water are all common-sense ways to keep your mom or dad safe there.
But one of the best ways to help your older adult maneuver in the bathroom is to add grab bars. They are a simple and cost-effective solution that can be easily installed in any bathroom to provide support and stability.
This reduces falls and helps prevent serious injuries. Top locations for grab bars include tub and shower areas and alongside the toilet.
If you’re unsure of the exact location to add grab bars or how to install them correctly, contact a local contractor or consult with an expert at a home improvement store. Proper placement and secure installation of grab bars is essential to preventing falls in seniors.
Bedrooms can be dangerous to seniors aging in place. They’re often poorly lit, may have loose rugs as decorative accents, and are the places we frequent when we’re tired and not particularly alert.
Getting into and out of a bed is difficult for many seniors because of medications taken before bedtime or because our bodies may become stiff after resting.
Adding grab bars to walls near the bed (or a no-install, free-standing grab bar) or purchasing a bed with built-in bedrails will help seniors get safely into and out of their resting area.
It’s also important to replace slippery throw rugs with non-slip mats to help your loved one maintain traction.
And, because humans often wake in the middle of the night to use the restroom or get a glass of water, the darkness of the room can put your loved one at risk.
Adding nightlights or motion-sensor lights throughout the room can help your older adult see their path in the dark.
Your older adult’s dressing space can also be a dangerous place if items are located outside of their reach.
Moving everyday items off top closet shelves to more convenient locations can help prevent your older adult from losing their balance while reaching. Your loved one may also benefit from a reaching tool that can grab items off high shelves.
Recommended for you:
- 10 Simple Fall Prevention Exercises Seniors Can Do at Home
- Increase Senior Independence with This Fall Risk Checklist
- 2 Fall Prevention Exercises for Seniors: Improve Balance While Reaching
Guest contributor: Caring Senior Service founder & CEO Jeff Salter began his career in senior care in 1991 working for a home health care agency in Odessa, Texas. Four months later, he started his own senior care service to provide seniors with the non-medical care they need to stay at home. In 2003, Caring Senior Service began offering franchises and today has nearly 50 locations across the United States. For more information on Caring Senior Service, please visit their website at https://www.caringseniorservice.com/
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