Slips, trips, and stumbles can be more serious as we grow older or when our recuperative powers are compromised by some medical condition.
That’s why many of our friends and colleagues in the caring professions are joining together to promote National Falls Prevention Awareness Day on September 22, 2016.
12 tips from caregivers for preventing falls at home
Recovering from a fall can be expensive, and a fall can even cost you your life: falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans. That's why it's crucial to be aware of the danger and to take preventive measures.
Here are the top 12 tips suggested by professional in-home caregivers at Caring Hearts offices around the country.
1) Relocate obstacles.
Clear obstacles like low-sitting furnishings, rolling furniture or loose floor coverings from high-traffic areas.
2) Add grip bars.
Install grip bars near beds, toilets, showers, and bathtubs. These minor enhancements can be a major convenience well before they are needed for safety.
3) Use non-slip pads.
Consider placing non-slip pads in tubs and showers and place non-skid bath mats as close to the shower or tub as possible.
4) Make use of mobility tools.
Try out stabilizing devices such as a walker or a car cane.
5) Use ice melt.
Use ice melt on sidewalks, steps, and and the driveway on cold days and be sure to walk slowly outside.
6) Consider future-fitting your home.
If you're doing remodeling work around the home, consider fall-prevention upgrades. You may want to replace laminate flooring, for example. It may be low-maintenance, but it can be pretty unforgiving in the case of a fall. (Check out our post on Aging in Place Home Improvement Ideas for more renovation inspiration!)
7) Go up and down the stairs less.
Make fewer trips up and down the stairs by giving some thought to what you will need during the day and perhaps adding multiple versions of items needed in different parts of the home.
8) Wear footwear that's safe on the stairs.
Never take the stairs in socks or loose-fitting shoes or slippers.
9) Look into adding slip-resistant tape.
Grip tape can be especially useful on stair treads.
10) Use seating with sturdy armrests.
Sturdy armrests can make getting out of chairs easier on stiff legs.11) Watch our for pets and children.
Not all tripping hazards are stationary: pets and even small children have been known to cause falls and injuries simply by getting underfoot.
12) Consider an emergency monitoring system.
Personal emergency response systems can be a lifeline if you need help after a fall. At the least, keep a cordless or cellular phone within reach in the most frequently used areas of the home.
The Key: Prepare Yourself Before There's an Accident
In the hundreds of communities where Caring Hearts offers services and free in-home evaluations, we’re too often invited in only after a fall. The time to take stock of your loved one’s situation and the layout of his or her home is before the need is urgent.
It’s also important that elderly people treat every fall as potentially serious. Some injuries — even the most severe — may not be obvious until several hours after the incident. It’s also not uncommon for those suffering head injuries to be unaware of having hit their head.
WHAT DID WE MISS?
What fall prevention techniques should families with elders at home be practicing? Please share your ideas with our Facebook community.