The last thing any senior needs is to experience a fall that could potentially cause serious injury or leave her helpless until someone finds her. The first step in fall prevention is to make a fall risk assessment of your home to help prevent this all-too-common occurrence.
Assess the entry into your home. Are there steps that have to be climbed? Do you have handrails, and are they secured or coming loose? If you have difficulty navigating steps or use a walker or wheelchair when traveling to appointments, you may need to consider having a ramp installed. Also beware of icy conditions in colder months that could make anyone tumble down the steps. And don’t forget to make sure your entryway is well lit if you come and go after dark.
There are many potential fall hazards in your home, but one of the most common is clutter or furniture in commonly used pathways. Make sure to maintain a clear path throughout the house, even if it means rearranging furniture to provide a wider and safer pathway for walking.
Loose rugs and extension cords are a big culprit in causing falls. A throw rug on a hardwood or linoleum floor can slide right out from under you or bunch up under your feet even on carpeted areas. Steps can also create a problem inside multistory homes. Try to minimize the need for navigating stairways as much as possible, and if you do have to go up and down steps, make sure to take your time and not carry anything so large you can’t see where you’re walking.
Other Contributing Factors
Many people make a fall risk assessment of their home but forget to assess themselves for factors that increase their risk. Certain medications can increase one’s risk for falls if their side effects can include symptoms like dizziness or confusion. For example, blood pressure medications can cause a drop in blood pressure that leads to feelings of dizziness, which can increase your risk of falling.
The Most Dangerous Room in the House
This brings us to one of the greatest areas of fall risk in any home: the bathroom. Getting in and out of the tub can be tricky without adding safety rails. Also consider some type of shower bench in the bathtub for increased safety. Assistive rails around the commode can be a huge help as well, and if you’re having trouble getting up and down from such a low seat, there are raised toilet seats available.
More Safety Tricks
If you use a walker, get one with a seat so you can rest if you’re tired or sit down while doing chores and errands. You can also invest in a medical alert system to keep on you at all times, so you’re always covered should you fall despite all your safety precautions.