The single most significant risk for aging adults is losing their balance and falling for whatever reason. That makes it time to prepare homes inside and out to make them less obstructed and safe for older loved ones and guests.
As we age, we experience gait instability, less mobility, corrected vision, inability to see well in the dark, a slower reaction time, and less chance to catch ourselves before falling and becoming injured.
According to the CDC, there’s a higher risk of serious injury when seniors fall. Every year, more than 300,000 people ages 65 and older become hospitalized for hip fractures (primarily attributable to falling), and 10-percent of those patients die within one month after a hip fracture, and 30 to 50-percent succumb to their injuries within a year.
A significant number of falls are preventable by being proactive in fall prevention planning and more personal and responsive to senior-relevant issues. Just like when expecting a child or a new pet, falling by anyone can be vastly reduced by proactively evaluating homes and creating a safe environment in advance of older visitors.
Home Fall Prevention To-Do List
- Clear walkways of debris, ice, snow, and leaves
- Add lighting, Install and tighten handrails
- Pickup and store loose items from floors and stairs
- Eliminate any tripping hazards like loose electric cords and unsecured rugs
- Rearrange furniture to create wide walkways and paths between rooms suitable for electric wheelchairs, mobility scooters, power chairs, wheelchairs, rollators, and walkers
- Have pets gradually introduced and under control to prevent tripping
- Night light hallways, bedrooms, and bathrooms
- Consider installing a raised toilet seat and handrails in at least one bathroom
- Showers would also benefit from benches and handrails
To complement your preparations, make sure that the vision of your loved ones is known, and eyeglass prescriptions are up to date. Also, confirm that canes and walkers correspond to the owner’s height and weight, and they are safely gripped and operated as designed. Older loved ones should also consider participating in regular strength and balance exercises specifically suited to their age, condition, and mobility.