by: Nick Passarelli RI, Phenix Home Care, Inc
Make Your Home Safer from Falling Hazards
According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans. Falls threaten seniors’ safety and independence and generate enormous economic and personal costs. There are many steps that you can take to prevent falls, but one of the most important things you can do is to make your home safer. Any room in your house can hold hazards that make falls more likely.
Keeping high traffic areas of your home clear is one great step you can take towards making your home safer. Consider moving tables and other furniture out of the way so it is easier to avoid while walking, as well as clutter, like boxes, magazine racks, and coat stands, and shoes from your entryway. Additionally, avoid cords running long lengths in any room, they can create a serious tripping hazard. Plug things into the outlets closest to where they are, and consider gathering any excess cord with a ziptie, to prevent tangles and making it less likely to trip over.
Be mindful of any loose rugs you may have on the floor. You can easily secure them to the ground with double-sided tape, velcro, or tacks, or removing them completely. The corners and edges can easily stick up, or the rug itself can slip while you’re standing on it. You should also keep an eye out for any loose floorboards, or carpeting, and if you find any, have it repaired right away.
Using non slip mats in the bathroom are essential to prevent falls, as well as cleaning up any spilled liquid, from the floor. Lighting is also very important for fall prevention, darkly lit rooms hide tripping hazards from your sight. Great ways to avoid this problem is placing night lights in hallways, and darker areas of your home. You should also consider keeping a lamp next to your bed, so that your room is easily lit, and you are not moving through the darkness to find the light switch, or the bed. You can also find glow in the dark light switches, to make finding them in darkness easier, and less hazardous. Always make sure your stairways are well lit, and that you turn the lights on before attempting to go up or down stairs. And finally, keep flashlights ready and available incase of power outages.
Depending on your personal health and lifestyle, you may also consider more thorough modifications to your home, perhaps the use of grab bars for your bath or shower may be necessary in addition to non slip mats. You might also consider a plastic seat to use while showering, or even a handheld showerhead to make falls even less likely. Seniors might also invest in new hand rails for stairs, that are more sturdy, or even decide on placing hand rails on both sides of staircases. Non slip treads on hardwood steps are a great way to prevent falls, as well.
Lastly, remember to get eye exams regularly. If you wear corrective lenses, make sure your prescription is up to date, and your lenses are clean and scratch-free. Lenses that transition from dark-tinted outside to clear while inside are great for protecting your eyes, but can be hazardous while coming inside from the bright sun. Considering keeping an extra pair of glasses with you, that you can use while waiting for your transition lenses to lighten. If you wear bifocals, use extra caution on stairs, taking steps slowly, and making sure you have your feet solidly where they should before taking the next step.
Speak with a doctor or nurse about ways you can make your home safer, and what prevention ideas are suited to you personally. Some of these ideas are simple, inexpensive and can be done on your own, while others may require professional help. Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, so take precautions whenever possible to make sure it doesn’t happen to you.