Falls are health threats that deny thousands of seniors their independence each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a third of all older Americans fall every year, and in 2010, more than 2 million had to seek emergency medical care for such injuries as head trauma, hip fractures, and broken bones. Preventing falls in the elderly is an important part of ensuring quality of life; fortunately, it’s something that can be done easily and at low cost. There are several measures you can take today to reduce fall risk in your home. Start with these five:
1. Clean Up Clutter
Clutter seems to accumulate by its own volition. Suddenly you’ll notice that a collection of newspapers has piled up by the sofa, and several shoes are scattered by the door. Items like these can cause you to trip, particularly if they’re left in high-traffic areas. Keep your walkways clear: Place a hamper, laundry basket, or box in an unobtrusive area to collect loose items and prevent them from causing a fall.
2. Light the Way
As you age, you may notice that it becomes more difficult to see in the dark. Placing a nightlight in the hallway between the bedroom and bathroom can be very helpful as you navigate the house at night, and a lamp on your nightstand can help light the bedroom. To brighten other dark areas of the house, you can purchase inexpensive, battery-powered stick-on touch lights. Remember to periodically check for blown light bulbs throughout your home, and have them changed by a friend, family member, or handyperson.
3. Wear Shoes with Slip-Resistant Soles
Wearing supportive, rubber-soled shoes in the house can be just as important as wearing them outside. That’s because walking around in your socks, or even in the wrong shoes, can cause you to slip and fall. It’s a good idea to keep one good pair of shoes by the door for quick access when you’re going out, and another by the bed so that they’re easy to find for a late-night trip to the bathroom.
4. Eliminate Hazards and Slip Risks
There are probably several fall hazards in your home that you’ve never noticed. Ensure that there are non-slip mats in your tub, bathroom, and kitchen to prevent you from slipping on a wet tile floor. Check to make sure that all rugs have slip-resistant backing or are secured to the floor with double-sided tape. In addition, keep any electrical cords out of your walkways; if this is not possible, be sure to tape them flat against the floor.
5. Invest in a Medical Alert Device
Though falls are often preventable, it’s a good idea to be prepared in the event one does occur. Medical alert devices can call for help at the simple push of a button, ensuring that help is on the way when you need it most. For the best protection, consider a medical alert device with fall-detection technology, such as the Lifeline Auto Alert system. Fall-detection technology enables the device to place a call automatically when a fall is detected.
Falls can lead to serious injury and a loss of independence; in extreme cases, they can be fatal. Luckily, preventing falls in the elderly is easy and inexpensive. Taking these simple steps to reduce fall risk in your home can help you remain independent, mobile, and healthy.