Home can be a hazardous place for seniors. Everyday objects and decorative items can create fall hazards and pose dangers that seniors may not think about. Preventing falls is one of the most important things that you can do to protect the health of seniors. According to the National Council on Aging falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults. Here are the top fall hazards that exist in most every home. When you know about them you can address them easily, making the home “fall-proof”.
Throw rugs: Throw rugs move. That is why they are a fall hazard. Even when a non-skid mat is placed underneath, the edges of throw rugs can flip and curl up and can cause your loved one to trip. It is best to remove them from the house altogether. If your loved one says a throw rug is necessary to keep his or her feet warm while sitting in a chair, buy some warm slippers instead. Throw rugs are dangerous and create a daily fall hazard.
Piles of clutter: Some seniors seem to collect more belongings as they age. Piles of clutter begin to appear around the house; boots and shoes by the door, clothing on the stairs, newspapers and magazines on the countertops. Each of these posed a fall hazard. Piles on the floor can easily be tripped over. Piles of clutter on countertops pose a fall hazard because if your loved one does trip and tries to grab the countertop they may continue to fall if they grab paper instead of a firm counter.
It’s important to sort through and organize these piles. Asked your loved one to sit with you and identify what is necessary to keep and what has simply accumulated and can now be thrown out. Organizational containers like baskets can hold shoes and boots in one place. Specially made stair baskets can hold items that need to be carried upstairs. You may have to organize piles occasionally, or even weekly, with your loved one, but the time will be well spent. Eliminating clutter means reducing the risk of falls.
Poor lighting: Stairs, walkways and hallways that are not well lit create a significant fall hazard. Aging eyesight needs bright lighting to define changes in walking surfaces. When the level and texture of the surface changes, for example when the pavement turns to gravel on an outdoor walkway, or when there is a threshold between rooms indoor, bright lighting is essential to prevent falls. Make sure that all light fixtures in the home have bulbs with the highest wattage allowed. Check the location of light switches and make sure it is easy for your loved one to turn on lights before walking up and down the stairs or going to the bathroom at night. Install night lights in all electrical outlets. Make sure the bedside lamp is within easy reach of the bed. Check outdoor walkways and make sure that there is sufficient lighting along the entire length and to the door. Make sure that stairs are well lighted as well.
All of these small changes can help to make sure that falls do not occur because of low lighting or shadows. Another note, when identifying fall prevention steps for your loved one be sure to assess your home, furniture, and layout. Lastly, be sure to understand the long-term consequences of in-home falls. If you’re informative it can ease any tension caused by “change” for your loved one.