One in three older Americans falls every year! Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for people aged 65+. Even falls without a major injury can cause an older loved one to become fearful or depressed, making it difficult for them to stay active. YOU can help reduce their risk of falling and help them stay healthy and independent as long as possible.
General tips to help reduce the risk of falls include:
- Removing obstacles in the house that could cause tripping. Everything from small floor rugs to objects on the floor like an oversized vase or magazine stand.
- Installing handrails and lights on staircases, with light switches at the top and bottom of the stairs.
- Increase lighting throughout the house. Ensure that lighting is readily available when they get up in the middle of the night.
- Installing shower and tub grab bars in the bathroom, around the toilet and the tub.
- Place no-slip mats on the shower floor and bathtub.
- Paint doorsills with a different, highlighting color to avoid tripping.
- Review medications with their doctor for side effects and interactions that may increase the risk of falling.
- Wear shoes. Socks may be comfortable, but they present a slipping risk.
Making the decision for a loved one to remain in their home may involve slight remodeling or adjustments to the house itself. The National Association of Home Builders has created an Aging In Place Remodeling Checklist that is quite extensive and worth reviewing.
The good news about falls is that most of them can be prevented.