Every year, nearly one-quarter of Americans over the age of 65 fall, and these falls frequently result in injury, which can have long-term consequences for a senior’s health and well-being. In fact, falls are the leading cause of injury and death among the elderly. There is no way to guarantee that a senior citizen will never fall, but there are precautions you can take both inside and outside the home to help keep seniors safe. You can help protect a senior from a potentially dangerous fall by ensuring that the home is secure with all obstructions removed, ensuring that the senior has the proper shoes and walking aids outdoors, salting icy areas, and working with the senior on their balance and overall health.
Method 1 Setting Up the Home
1. Maintain a clean floor. According to the National Safety Council, the majority of falls occur at home, and one of the simplest ways you can help protect a senior from falling at home is to remove obstructions on the floor. Toys, clothes, and even cleaning products like brooms or vacuums should be kept off the floor.
Items other than furniture should be kept off the floor by storing them in designated areas such as closets or hampers.
Keep cords as far away from the floor as possible. Wherever possible, use cordless phones and other wireless devices. Keep cords tacked down against the wall or baseboards in areas where they are required.
Keep stairwells and doorways clear at all times.
Try to avoid having your senior live in a home with stairs.
Throw rugs should be avoided at all costs because they are common causes of tripping and falling. If a rug is required, choose a flat or low-pile rug with nails or adhesive to secure the edges.
Remove any clutter and any furniture that is obstructing pathways.
Items used on a daily basis should be kept in an easily accessible location. Consider purchasing extended grabber reaching aids in the event that something is dropped around the house. Bending down to pick up something is a common cause of dizziness and falls in the elderly.
2. Make sure your rooms are well-lit. Proper lighting in key areas can help prevent trips and falls in the home. Check that there are at least two bulbs illuminating important areas such as doorways and hallways, and that switches are placed at accessible heights on either side of a room entry or hallway.
If you are assisting in the care of an independent senior, consider assisting them in the purchase and installation of lights that can be set on timers to automatically turn on during important times of the day, such as at nightfall.
3. Check that the furniture is at the proper height. Furniture that is too high or too low, particularly chairs, sofas, and beds, can pose a significant tripping and falling hazard to seniors. Check that the senior can sit up straight, with their feet comfortably flat on the floor, and that their knees do not rise above their hips.
If the legs of the furniture are too long, they may need to be shortened or the furniture replaced. If the legs are too short, you can usually purchase risers or supports to raise the furniture to the proper height.
4. Set up grab bars. Install grab bars in the tub, shower, and next to the toilet to assist the elderly person in lifting and supporting themselves in a frequently slippery environment. These can be bought at a home improvement store or installed by a professional.
Work with the senior to ensure that the grab bars are at the proper height for their needs. Allow them to sit or stand in the appropriate areas to determine where the bars should be installed.
Install a raised toilet seat, which can make sitting and standing easier, unless the person in question is very short.
5. Purchase an alert system. There are several alert systems available for seniors to use in order to report a fall. Some, such as buttons or switches, are wall-mounted, while others are wearable. Talk to the senior person and let them decide which system is best for them.
Because switches and buttons must be installed in every room of the house and may still be inaccessible after a senior falls, a personal alert necklace or watch is often preferable.
Method 2 Preventing Falls Outside
1. The sidewalk should be salted. If you’re in a snowy or icy environment, make sure sidewalks and steps are as clear of snow and ice as possible, and that they’re heavily salted to help with traction. Seniors who live independently can ask their neighbours, loved ones, or the city to help them keep their outdoor environment clean.
If you assist a senior citizen, offer to come over and help them clear areas such as their sidewalk and driveway, as well as put salt down during the winter.
2. Purchase high-quality equipment. When a senior citizen is out of the house, the proper shoes and canes or walkers can help keep them more stable. Check that walkers and canes have rubber bottoms for traction, and that the senior wears rubber-soled shoes with grips. Applying tennis balls to the walker’s front two legs can help it slide across carpeting without getting stuck and potentially unbalancing the user.
Many shoe stores sell quality rubber soled shoes for a reasonable price, and they are frequently sold as work shoes.
Consult a doctor or medical professional for advice on the best walking aids for outdoor use.
More ideas and product suggestions can be found at a medical supply store.
3. Avoid areas where there are cracks or potholes. If an area is known to have a high number of cracks, potholes, or other uneven surfaces, seniors should avoid that area until it is repaired. Major hazards should be reported to the city so that they can be repaired as soon as possible.
If a nearby park or walking path is unsuitable for a senior’s safety concerns, assist them in locating a new outdoor area that they can easily access on foot or via provided transportation.
Report any major potholes or tripping hazards near a senior citizen’s home to local government as soon as possible and request that the area be repaired as soon as possible for the senior resident’s safety.
Method 3 Exercising and Working with a Doctor
1. Regular balance exercises should be attempted. Tai Chi and other exercises that promote strength and balance can help reduce a senior’s risk of an uncontrollable fall. If you are a senior, consider enrolling in a low-impact strength and balance class at a community centre or senior service centre.
Talk to a senior citizen about a low-impact exercise routine that focuses on strength and balance if you help them with their care. Assist them in finding a senior-friendly class, such as Tai Chi.
To keep your balance sharp, try to exercise for at least 30 minutes three times per week.
2. Get regular eye exams. Schedule annual vision exams to ensure that obstacles and obstructions can be seen clearly and easily. Seniors should have their eyes checked at least once a year, and their eyeglasses and contact prescriptions should be up to date.
Macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma can all make it difficult to see obstacles. As part of an overall senior wellness plan, consult an opthamologist about long-term treatment and management options.
3. Medication should be monitored. Many essential medications may cause side effects that impair vision, balance, or strength. Whether you are a senior or help care for one, make sure medication is taken in the correct doses and at the correct times every day.
Every time a new prescription is issued, have a doctor or pharmacist review all current prescriptions to ensure that all current medications can work together.
Use a timed pill dispenser, for example, to ensure that the right pills are taken at the right time on the right days.
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