Every year, millions of seniors fall at home. The CDC reports that one in four seniors will fall every year, but fewer than half report it to their family or primary care physician. While a fall may seem like a minor problem, especially if they’re able to get back up and carry on, studies show that falling once will more than double a senior’s chances of falling again.
Whether your loved one has experienced a fall or you just want to prevent a dangerous situation, this senior fall prevention checklist can help reduce the risk of seniors falling and improve senior mobility.
The Real Risks Associated with a Fall
For many seniors, falling can mean the difference between living independently and struggling with limited mobility in a long-term care facility. Falls in seniors cause a wide range of injuries and hospitalizations every year, which makes falling both hazardous for your health and finances.
- 300,000+ seniors are hospitalized with hip fractures annually
- One in five falls results in serious injury
- More than 95% of hip fractures occur as a result of falling
- The most common cause of traumatic brain injury is falling
- Every year around $50 billion is spent on medical costs for non-fatal injuries; 75% of which is paid by Medicare and Medicaid
Common Injuries Associated with Falling
One in five falls causes serious injury. These injuries can make performing the daily activities of life difficult. Suddenly getting dressed, making dinner, or climbing the stairs is an insurmountable obstacle. Many seniors lose their independence to injuries like:
- Broken bones
- Hip fractures
- Wrist and ankle sprains
- Head injuries
- Contusions or wounds (especially dangerous if you’re on blood thinners)
- Decreased activity and muscle atrophy
Because these injuries interfere with mobility, they can also increase the likelihood of another damaging fall, perpetuating the cycle. Using in-home care services to reduce your workload and keep your home tidy can lower the risk and costs associated with a bad fall. While falls are sometimes completely unavoidable, there are many precautions you can take to reduce your risk of falling and incurring injuries.
Elderly Fall Prevention Checklist
So, how can we prevent falls in seniors? When it comes to preventing seniors from falling, being proactive can make all the difference. Not every item on the list will work for every home or situation. However, implementing even just a few of these suggestions could prevent injury and long-lasting health consequences.
Floors and Layout
- Walk through your house and note spaces where you have to move around furniture. Get someone to help you create an obstacle-free path by rearranging furniture and fixtures.
- Use double-sided tape or a non-slip rug mat to keep your rugs from bunching up or moving when you walk over them.
- Utilize bookshelves, magazine racks, coat hangers, and other organization tools to ensure that every object has a place and your floors stay clear.
- Check any cords or wires from electronics and ensure they are taped to the wall to prevent tripping hazards. You can also have another outlet put in to prevent wires from reaching across the floor.
- Repair any loose, broken, or uneven steps.
- Make sure any carpeting on the stairs is firmly in place or consider removing it in favor of non-slip rubber tread.
- Examine the handrails and ensure they are sturdy and can bear weight if someone were to suddenly lose balance.
- If there are lights in the stairwell, make sure the bulb is replaced regularly. If there is no light, consider having one installed.
- Install a light switch at both the top and the bottom of the stairs to prevent unnecessary trips.
- Remove rugs from the top or bottom of the staircase to prevent tripping and falling down the stairs.
- Rearrange your cabinets so your most-used items are on the lower, easier-to-reach shelves.
- Invest in a high-quality step stool with non-slip tread, a handle, and rubber feet. Make sure it’s completely locked into place and steady before using it.
- Use a reacher grabber for lighter items to reduce the risk of falling from the step ladder.
- Clean up spills as soon as they happen to prevent slick floors.
- Don’t wax your floors.
- Keep a list of emergency contacts, doctor’s contact info, and important health information posted visibly on the fridge in case you do fall.
- Install non-slip rubber mats or stips in your shower and tub.
- Use a shower chair or bench.
- Consider having grab bars installed in your shower and near the tub for support as you get in and out.
- Install grab bars near the toilet for assistance getting up and down.
- Consider choosing a toilet with a higher seat or use a booster.
- Use a nightlight to keep you from bumping into things or tripping over objects in the dark.
- Clean up any water on the floor quickly to prevent slips.
- Place bedside lamps close to the bed so they’re easy to reach.
- Use nightlights to light the way to the restroom to prevent tripping in the dark.
- Keep a landline or charged cell phone near your bed.
- Consider installing a bed rail for help getting into and out of bed without losing your balance.
- Keep your floor as clear as possible.
- Light stoops and stairs when possible.
- Line your pathways with solar lights so you don’t forget to change the batteries.
- Repair any uneven surfaces like decks, stairs, or sidewalks.
- Keep an ice cane attachment near the door to add to your cane during inclement weather.
- Have any roots or branches you have to walk around removed from your walking path.
Remember, if you need help rearranging your home, keeping it tidy and obstacle-free, or you are experiencing mobility issues, home care services can help.
5A – Helping Prevent Seniors Falling in Their Homes
This elderly fall prevention checklist isn’t completely comprehensive, but it is a great place to start to prevent falls in seniors. Home care services can help you ready your home and prevent some of the obstacles that lead to falls. To find out more about the services and devices that can help fall-proof your home, contact the Arkansas Association of Area Agencies on Aging today.
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