For the elderly loved ones in your life, home safety is an essential part of maintaining their health and independence. This includes fall related safety. One in four elderly Americans fall in their home every year. This may seem like an unavoidable statistic, but nothing could be further from the truth. Falling is not an inevitable result of aging, and is actually completely preventable.
With falls being the leading cause of serious injury and death among senior citizens, making sure their home environment and personal health are properly managed is key to avoiding preventable injuries. Follow these simple yet effective guidelines for better elderly home safety.
Fall-Proof Your Home
Getting up and down the stairs, or in and out of the bed or bathtub, is often more challenging for seniors as they age. That’s why it’s crucial to put safeguards in place that will minimize the risk of slips, trips, and falls. Use this checklist to ensure your elderly loved one stays safe:
● Ensure that all outdoor and indoor lights create sufficient brightness, and use LED bulbs for maximum longevity. Motion-activated lights make it even easier to navigate in and around the home.
● Install grab bars or guardrails wherever fall risk is high: on showers, doors, or in bed.
● Replace scatter rugs with rubber-backed rugs for maximum grip.
● Move frequently used items to the lowest shelves. Everyday items like dishes or towels should always be easy to reach.
● Even if there’s already a handrail on the staircase, consider adding a second handrail. Having one handrail for each side of the stairs helps tremendously with balance.
● Line the edge of stairs with colorful tape to make each step clearly visible.
● Put a rubber-mat inside the shower or tub for traction when bathing. A shower chair and a handheld shower also makes bathing easier and safer.
Monitor Health Issues
Fall-proofing your home is an important first step, but it won’t help protect senior citizens from falls if their medication, vision, or hearing are not properly managed. Side effects from medicine, low vision, and hearing loss are all common contributors to household accidents.
The next steps to ensuring elderly safety at home are to:
● Make sure that the right type and dosage of medication is used for ongoing health issues, and consider switching medications if side effects are negatively affecting cognitive and motor skills.
● Get annual vision exams to ensure prescription glasses and/or contact lenses are strong enough.
● Get hearing checked every year. Those with hearing loss or inner ear infections are at a
higher risk of falling, because they are less aware of their surroundings and may struggle
to stay balanced.
● Take advantage of Medicare’s many preventive services. Under the Affordable Care Act,
Medicare offers myriad preventive screenings and tests at no cost to the patient, including bone mass measurements and the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program (MDPP.)
Work on Strength and Balance
Regular exercise can restore and improve strength, balance, coordination, and flexibility. Engaging in low-impact physical activity at least once a week is recommended to maintain the benefits of exercise. To improve the body’s strength and balance, consider:
- Gentle yoga
- Tai chi
- Water workouts
- Physical therapy
- Wearing low-heeled shoes with non-skid soles
Keeping senior citizens safe at home is not as difficult as people imagine. Since the vast majority of seniors prefer to remain at home as they grow older, it’s all the more important to learn how to maximize their safety within the comfort of their own home. Practical, cost-effective modifications to the home, regular doctor visits, and weekly, low-impact exercise go a long way in protecting your elderly loved one from potentially fatal injuries.
Gallagher Home Care is a Medicare-certified home health agency that employs highly trained, credentialed home health aides. We pride ourselves on delivering compassionate, high-quality care to the senior citizen population. Contact us at (412) 279-2257 with any questions. We are happy to give you more information about referrals and the services we offer.