By ALYSSA WINBERG
It’s no surprise that falls are more common among the elderly. However, senior falls due to unfit living environments are unnecessary and avoidable.
Did you know that one in four Americans over the age of 65 suffers at least one fall each year? Or that every 19 minutes, a senior dies from a fall? Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
We can’t change the fact that seniors are more susceptible to falls, but we can help educate seniors and their loved ones on creating safer home environments.
For seniors living in a house, it is highly encouraged they live in a single-level home that doesn’t have any steps. It’s important to pay attention to the front porch as well as the garage and interior of the house, to make sure there are no stairs to fall down or trip over. If possible, seniors should stay away from homes that have basements; however, avoiding the basement is also an option if a house has one. It is possible for a senior to have a home with a basement and never step foot in it. It is encouraged to call a loved one or neighbor when needing to retrieve something from the basement.
Keep The Home Well Lit
Poor eyesight is a leading cause of accidental falls among the senior community. Keeping the home well-lit can help seniors see things they might otherwise trip over in dim lighting. Add brighter bulbs and lamps in the home, so everything is visible. It is also recommended to have night-lights on in the home at night. A senior susceptible to falls should never be in a completely dark home, unless they are on vacation and out of the home.
Remove all Throw Rugs From the Home
Any rug that can easily be moved or crinkled is dangerous for a senior. They may look nice, but it is not worth it. Rugs can lead to feet getting caught, creating a loss of balance and an increased risk of falling. Remove all rugs that pose this hazard. The only “rugs” that should be in the home of a senior are bath mats that stick to the ground, to prevent slipping on wet surfaces.
No Electric Cords
Today, the typical household has an abundance of electrical appliances with cords running through different areas of the home. Loose electrical cords can cause people of all ages to trip and fall, but they are more dangerous for those who don’t recover from falls so easily. All loose electric cords and extension cords should be wrapped up and tucked behind furnishings, out of sight.
Grab bars are an incredible resource for seniors needing some extra help with their balance. Adding grab bars to showers, bathtubs, toilet areas, and even in the bedroom near the bed is a worthwhile investment. Grab bars can aid balance when moving around, stepping in and out of the bath tub or shower, helping to use the toilet, and getting in and out of bed. Grab bars can also be used to catch a fall or maintain balance.