Home Fall Prevention Tips for Seniors

Right at Home Barry Maring's Home Health Minute on AM100 the Flag 

Dad recently switched medications and starting shuffling more than walking. Last week, he tripped on a bedroom rug but landed on the bed. He was shaken but not injured. Yesterday, Mom tiptoed to reach for baking soda in the kitchen cupboard and slipped, bruising her ribs. You worry about your parents’ safety at home and know it’s time to help prevent falls from happening. But what’s the best approach?

Aging increases the risk of stumbling and sustaining injuries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that one out of three Americans age 65 and older falls each year. Roughly 20 percent of falls cause serious injuries including lacerations, broken bones and head injuries. Annually nationwide, at least 250,000 elderly people are hospitalized because of hip fractures, and more than 95 percent of these broken hips originate from a fall.

Fall-related fractures are more than double for older women than for older men. For the elderly, injuries from a fall often limit mobility and can lead to isolation and depression. A quick stumble can even prove deadly. Weakened balance, vision and physical strength affect an elderly person’s ability to stay on his/her feet, so regular eyesight and overall health exams are essential. Medication reviews by a physician are also crucial since many elders fall because of medication side effects or dosage issues.

“Seniors who fall, even if they are not injured, often develop a fear of falling,” said Barry Maring, owner of Right at Home Fargo and Detroit Lakes. “This fear can keep them from enjoying regular activities, which then reduces mobility and physical fitness. With less muscle tone and confidence, a person’s actual risk of falling increases. Falls also limit older adults from living independently, which is something our at-home care providers work hard to preserve for each individual.”

Maring recommends Right at Home’s Fall Prevention Guide to help family caregivers and seniors identify and avert fall hazards inside and outside the home. The guide was developed with the assistance of Dr. Rein Tideiksaar, a gerontologist, geriatric physician’s assistant and president of FallPrevent, a consulting company that helps safeguard older adults from falling. The following home safety tips help protect the elderly:

Common fall hazard: Slippery floor surfaces; towels or slippery rugs on the floor
Prevention: Lay nonslip mats on the floor and install grab bars in a contrasting color.

Common fall hazard: Poor lighting (especially at night)
Prevention: Ensure a light is within easy reach of the bed, and use nightlights to illuminate the path from the bed to the bathroom.

Common fall hazard: Obstacles and electrical cords across pathways
Prevention: Remove clutter, cords and furnishings so walking areas are clear.

Common fall hazard: Unstable chairs
Prevention: Use stable, non-wheeled kitchen chairs with armrests to help older adults sit and stand up safely.

Living Room
Common fall hazard: Carpet with upended edges or uneven, worn seams
Prevention: Tape down upended carpet edges or replace carpet where needed.

Common fall hazard: Lack of handrail support
Prevention: Install rounded handrails on both sides of the steps; handrails should extend beyond the top and bottom steps.

Right at Home senior care providers can assist with a review of potential fall hazards and help ensure older adults feel safe, confident and comfortable living at home.

If someone you love is in need of care, contact us today.

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B. Maring
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