Falls are a serious concern, especially among the elderly because injuries from a fall can be so much more severe. This issue has gotten more attention in recent years and you may have already heard some basic tips for preventing these accidents. Here are a few more ways to ensure that homes are safe and falls are prevented as much as possible:
Exercise – For some, this may seem counter-intuitive. Fear of falling sometimes stops us from being active. We try to remain stationary so that the likelihood of falling is limited. However, the right exercises are some of the best ways to prevent accidents. Remember to always start small and to never push yourself too much. Begin by holding onto a railing or table as you stand on one leg for 15 seconds before switching to the next. Next, try to stand on your tip toes for 15 seconds or keep both feet on the floor and bend your knees gently and hold for 15 seconds to strengthen your thighs. Work on increasing how many seconds you can hold these exercises.
Change your footwear – If your cold toes are still at the mercy of slippers, keep in mind that their name isn’t leading you astray. Soft shoes, slippers, and socks are dangerous because they don’t have the friction that is needed to prevent falls. Stick to shoes with lower heels and good grips to ensure your feet are firmly planted.
Clear pathways – Cluttered homes are a major contributing factor to the number of falls that happen each year. We all know how it happens – your mother just HAS to keep the 4 different sets of plates still in boxes that she got for a great deal, your father doesn’t want to make waves by telling your brother he needs to clean up his kid’s toys, cleaning is daunting and things always get in the way, these situations are really common. They are also the reason that falls happen, hips break, and people get sick. It can be a difficult task, but it’s an important one. Don’t be afraid to stand up to family to advocate for what needs to get done. Attend an organizational workshop if you think it will help. Encourage your loved ones to keep spaces clear for their own safety.
Use carpet runners – Once pathways have been cleared and things are more organized, it might be time to invest in some carpet runners. They will add traction to high-traffic areas of the home so that moving from place to place is safer. They are great for hardwood or tiled areas that can be slippery. However, they can also increase the traction of a carpeted area depending on the type you get. If you are adding them to a slick surface like hardwood or tile, don’t forget to secure them with rug grippers so that they don’t slide around.
Invest in lighting – Lighting can be an enormous help when making a home safer for someone who is a fall risk. Well-lit areas are easier to move about and can help those with vision impairments. Consider using motion-sensors so that no one has to worry about finding a switch in the dark. One easy change is to always keep a flashlight near the bed to make things easier in the middle of the night.
Use cordless phone – Upgrade from the old-fashioned phones with a cord to something that is more portable. Phones with a clip are great to keep on someone’s person in case of emergency so that it is easily accessible. However, keep in mind that if someone is transitioning from a corded phone to a cordless phone – they may forget that the handsets need to charge. It may be best to keep one corded phone in the house in case the handset’s batteries die accidentally.
Install handles – Most people think of the bathroom when they consider installing handles and it’s a great place to do so – particularly by the toilet or in the shower. However, get creative when it comes to placement. Handles can run along the length of a hallway or by the front door or beside a favorite chair to help someone lower themselves into it. Pay attention to the most appropriate spots and consider options that don’t immediately spring to mind.
Use a caregiver – Having a caregiver come into the home to help with bathing, dressing, transportation, running errands, and companionship, among other tasks, can seriously decrease the likelihood of a fall. The assistance will help with stability and the supervision will ensure that any accidents are immediately reported and taken care of so that situations aren’t made worse. There are some government programs that provide caregiver services and additional options for those who do not qualify. To learn more, click the link below.
Talk to your doctor – The best defense against falls is usually by talking to your doctor. Sharing your medical history and the current medications you’re on can help them determine whether or not you are a fall risk and they can provide you with information on how to prevent them, as well. Be sure to keep up with regular eye and hearing exams, as problems in these areas can lead to falls.