Few preventable occurrances in life can lead to loss of independence as suddenly as taking a fall. Alarmingly, as many as one out of three older adults falls every year. Many falls result in serious injury, such as broken bones or head trauma. Even those who experience less serious falls may lose confidence, causing them to decrease their activity levels, which results in weakness and, ironically enough, an increased risk of falling.
You probably already exercise caution or remind your elderly relatives to do so when leaving the house, especially if the weather is wet or icy or the ground that is uneven. However, it’s easy to let your guard down in the safety and familiarity of your own home. There’s no need to live in fear, but you should know that more than half of all falls occur at home. The good news is that being aware of the dangers can help you to avoid them.
7 At-home Fall Risks:
- Poor lighting. It’s a fact of life that, as we age, we need more light to see clearly. You may want to add a few lamps or install brighter bulbs in your existing lights. If you tend to get up at night to use the bathroom or get a snack, don’t try to navigate in the dark. Keep a lamp next to your bed and turn it on! Use night lights in the hallways, bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen, and keep a flashlight handy in case the power goes out.
- Throw rugs. They may look pretty, but throw rugs can be slippery! Buy rugs with a non-slip backing or use double-sided tape to adhere them to the floor underneath. Make sure that your rugs lie flat on the floor, with no edges or corners sticking up to trip you.
- Stairways. If there are stairways in your home, make sure that they are free of clutter and are well lit. Ideally, light switches should be located at both the top and bottom of the stairs for easy access. You should also make sure that you use the handrails when going up or down the stairs, and you might even want to consider installing a second rail so that you have a grip on both sides. Wear shoes indoors rather than going barefoot or wearing slippers. This will give you greater traction and stability in any room, but is especially important on stairways.
- Bathrooms. Many falls occur in the bathroom for two reasons: much of what we do there requires us to bend over, and the floors and other surfaces are often wet. A few simple modifications can greatly reduce the likelihood of slipping and falling in this room. Install grab bars inside and outside of your shower or tub and next to the toilet. Use non-slip strips or a rubber mat on the floor of your shower or tub. Consider using a long-handled scrub brush to eliminate the need to bend over when washing hard-to-reach areas.
- Pets. Pets can be a source of companionship and entertainment, but they can also be a tripping hazard. You don’t need to get rid of your furry friends, but you should exercise caution. If you keep food and water dishes on the floor, make sure that they are located out of the way. Unfortunately, pets are completely incapable of cleaning up after themselves, and their toys will be left lying around. Be aware of this when entering a room, and avoid stepping on chew toys or balls that could cause you to fall.
- Difficult to reach items. Bending down or climbing up on a step stool to reach something can easily lead to loss of balance and result in a fall. It’s a good idea to keep things that you use frequently in a place where they are easy to reach. You may want to consider using a “grabber” for those times that you need to retrieve something that is stored out of reach.
- Clutter. Get rid of anything lying around that has the potential to trip you. This includes papers, books, laundry, or shoes. Also make sure that telephone and electrical cords are tucked away safely.
We’ve all heard the saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The best way to avoid the loss of independence that can result from a fall is to take precautions now. A little time and energy spent to fall proof your home is well worth the effort!
Visit the Davis Community’s Assisted Living in Wilmington NC
If you or a loved one are no longer capable of living completely alone – perhaps falls have become all too common, or fear is keeping you from enjoying activities and social engagements, call the Davis Community today at 910-686-7195. We provide exceptional assisted living in Wilmington NC with a strong and supportive environment where you or your loved one will feel welcomed and part of an active community. Get to know the difference today – schedule a visit to the Davis Community!