Tips for Reducing Fall Risk
As older adults age, falls can become more likely and more problematic. “Approximately 28-35% of people aged 65 and over fall each year, and 32-42% for those 70 years of age and over”, states the World Health Organization (WHO) Global report on falls prevention in older age. Falls are also the number one cause of injuries in seniors, resulting in hip fractures, cuts, and even serious head and brain injuries that can be fatal. And even when there is no serious injury, a fall can still be so frightening that seniors may avoid certain activities because they are afraid they will fall again.
Fall Risk Facts
“More than one out of four older people falls each year, but less than half tell their doctor”, states the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Falling one time will double the probability of another fall.
The WHO report even more shocking statistics about falls in older adults:
“Falls lead to 20-30% of mild to severe injuries and the underlying cause of 10-15% of all emergency room visits.”
“The duration of hospital stays due to falls varies; however, it is much longer than other injuries and can range from 4 to 15 days.”
“Falls may also result in post-fall syndrome that includes dependence, loss of autonomy, confusion, immobilization and depression, which will lead to a further restriction in daily activities.”
“Falls account for 40% of all injury deaths. Rates vary depending on the country and the studied population.”
Tips to Prevent Falls for Seniors
Take care of your loved one by being proactive in their home.
Use non-slip mats in the shower and bath tub.
Consider installing grab bars in the bathroom in various locations.
Install a seat in the shower.
Upgrade the shower head with a hand-held nozzle.
Remove all tripping hazards on or around stairs.
Install handrails everywhere there are stairs.
Make distinctions between each stair by painting each step a unique color or by using different carpet to set them apart and more easy to see.
Look into getting a stair-lift to assist with taking your loved one up and down stairs safely.
In the winter, make sure to remove ice from stairs and shovel nearby snow.
Get rid of extra furniture.
Hide speaker wires or extension cords behind or underneath furniture.
Find out if a walker, cane, or scooter can be beneficial to your loved one.
Verify that their shoes fit well and have good non-slip soles.
Consider shoes that are easier to loosen or tighten, such as velcro shoes.
Change bulbs, upgrade lighting fixtures, and install brighter lighting.
Do you part to help your loved one stay active.
Due to a slippery floor, unstable stairs, or electrical cords, most falls happen in the home where you might feel the safest. This is why it is important to plan ahead and make your home a safe living environment.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money on upgrades and remodeling. Start with a few small changes to safeguard your loved one.
Care experts for older adults give these tips for preventing falls at home:
Keep your home neat and tidy. The easiest way to prevent a fall is to clean up clutter in the home. Discard old magazines, newspapers and other clutter from hallways, walkways, and staircases.
Identify and deal with any potential tripping hazard, either by repair or removal. Home fixtures can be a major contributing factor in falls and injuries, including back pain. Inspect each room for potential hazards such as loose or protruding floorboards, bunched up rugs, or slippery floor mats, Remove or repair any item that might cause a fall.
Try to avoid wearing loose or over-sized clothing. Although comfortable at times, loose and baggy clothing can increase your chances of falling. Choose properly fitting clothing that does not drag across the ground nor bunch up.
Use brighter lights in your home. Low or otherwise insufficient lighting can be extremely hazardous. Pay special attention to narrow hallways and stairways, and use brighter bulbs wherever possible, to create a safer environment for your elderly loved one. Install night lights in bedrooms and bathrooms.
Make sure to wear shoes in the home. Although socks might provide warmth and comfort, they can pose a slipping risk. Alternatively, you can wear non-slip socks that contain grips underneath that help with traction if shoes cannot be worn or are not comfortable enough. Proper footwear can make all the difference in preventing slips and falls in the home.
Beware of slippery surfaces. Porches, kitchen floors, bathtubs and showers can become slippery and dangerous when wet. Non slip mats are recommended to reduce the likelihood of a slip injury.
Try to live in a one story home or stay on one level as often as possible. Climbing stairs can present increased opportunity for danger, even with guard rails or stair-lifts. Try to limit the amount of trips you take up or down the stairs each day and be extra cautious when doing so.
Walk with more care. Taking your time when getting up from a sitting position or being careful when sitting down can prevent falls and injuries.
Preventing a fall equates to preventing an injury. Get help from your loved ones to identify these in home hazards that can cause slips and falls: clutter, bad lighting, missing grab bars and handrails, and a lack of non slip mats where needed. Being proactive can make all the difference in keeping your loved one safe and free from serious injury. Last, but not least, make sure to have a Medicare plan that will cover your loved one in the case that a fall does occur. Don’t be caught off guard by surprise medical bills.