Falls are common in people ages 65 and older – more than one in four older adults fall each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Falling can also have serious consequences: one out of five falls results in a serious injury, such as a head injury or broken bone. In fact, more than 95 percent of all hip fractures are the result of falling and falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries. Keep reading to see our best fall prevention tips.
Just one fall can change your life. Falling just once doubles your chances of falling again. For many older adults, the mere thought of falling is paralyzing and prevents them from engaging in exercise or other favorite activities. This is especially true for those with health issues that prevent them from moving well, or who take medications that make them weak or dizzy. Fortunately, you can take steps to prevent falls in your household.
8 Fall Prevention Tips
1. Upgrade the bathroom
Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and shower to reduce the slipperiness of wet floors. Install grab bars inside the shower stall or just above the bathtub – do not rely on towel bars, as they may collapse under full body weight. Sit on a shower seat rather than standing, especially if weakness is an issue. Opt for a handheld nozzle rather than an attached shower head.
2. Address stairs
Stairs can be a real concern for older adults, especially for those with weakness, joint problems, or vision issues. If you or a member of your household has trouble using stairs but cannot avoid them to get into the house, bathroom, or bedroom, you can take steps to reduce the risk for falls on stairs. Install a sturdy handrail on each side of the stairs, for example, and always keep stairs clear of clothing, books, children’s toys, and other items. Increase the lighting on stairs, and consider installing colorful safety tape to make stairs easier to see. Consider a stairlift to make climbing or descending stairs safer.
3. Remove excess furniture
Joint problems and mobility issues can prevent an older adult from nimbly sidestepping a footstool or avoid nicking an end table on their way by. Removing unneeded or poorly-place furniture can create safer pathways. Also, consider purchasing furniture that is easy to use, such as chairs that are easy to get out of and snack trays that are easy to set up. Be sure to tuck away extension cords and tape down throw rugs to reduce trip and slip hazards.
4. Use a cane or walker
While some older adults balk at the idea of using a cane or walker, others see these mobility aids as their ticket to independence and a better quality of life. Using a cane, walker or even wheelchair can help older adults move from one place to another without the fear of falling.
5. Install better lighting
Many falls are the result of tripping in the dark, especially for older adults who have age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, glaucoma and other vision problems that become more common with age. Installing better lighting can help older adults avoid obstacles and reduce their risk of falls.
6. Step into better footwear
To prevent falls, shoes must fit well and feature non-slip soles. Consider shoes with Velcro straps if you or your family member has trouble with laces; Velcro straps are also less likely than long laces to cause a fall.
7. Stay active
Even mild activity, such as walking and light exercise, can help prevent falls by keeping the stabilizing muscles strong. Light exercise can also help improve balance for seniors.
8. Consider an assisted living community
Assisted living is a good option if you or someone in your family is at risk for falling. These dedicated communities already have built-in safety features, such as grab bars, handrails, and bright lighting. Assisted living communities also have services and amenities to reduce the risk of falls, such as a staff trained in dealing with emergencies, daily activities that keep mind and body in top condition, and regular wellness checks.
Serenity Oaks offers a wide range of services and amenities to help keep you and your family members safe from falls. We provide help with activities of daily living, such as bathing and dressing, assistance with medication, and safety and supervision in our high quality, comfortable community.
For more information about fall prevention tips for older adults, consult with Serenity Oaks.