According to the National Council on Aging, one in four older Americans falls every year. Sadly, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for people aged 65+.
If you’re taking care of an elderly loved one, it’s super important that you learn how to reduce the risk of a fall.
Here are six easy steps you can take today to help your older loved one reduce their risk of a fall:
Make an appointment with the Doctor
Find out if your older loved one is experiencing any problems with strength and balance, and what could be the reason.
Encourage your loved one to speak openly with their health care provider about all of their concerns about his or her overall health, especially if you’ve noticed a recent decay.
If your older loved one wears glasses, make sure they have a current prescription.
Also, remember that using tint-changing lenses can be hazardous when going from bright sun into darkened buildings and homes. Changing glasses upon entry or stop until their lenses adjust can be helpful with this issue.
Bifocals also can be problematic on stairs, so it’s important to be cautious.
Another aspect to keep into account is that some prescriptions and over-the-counter medications can cause balance issues, dizziness, dehydration, or interactions with each other that can lead to a fall.
Remove Tripping Hazards
To make your senior loved one’s home safer, take a look around and focus on the possible hazards, such as boxes, newspapers, electrical cords, phone cords, loose rugs, plant stands and remove it from high-traffic areas.
Immediately repair loose, wooden floorboards and carpeting, and clean spilled liquids, grease, or food.
Light up your living space
Seniors cannot always see that well in a dark or shadowed room. Make sure to increase lighting throughout the house, especially at the stairs.
Keep the home brightly lit by placing night lamps in the bedroom, making clear paths to light switches, or even trading traditional switches for glow-in-the-dark or illuminated switches.
On this same subject, ensure that your senior loved one has flashlights stored in easy-to-find places in case of power outages and that lighting is readily available when getting up in the middle of the night.
Keep Items Within Easy Reach
Store clothing, cosmetic items, dishes, food, and other necessities within easy reach.
Climbing on a step stool or a chair to reach a high cabinet up can greatly increase the risk of falling in older adults.
Removing excess furniture can also create a safer living environment and give the senior more room to maneuver. Having fewer things, and only keeping near the important ones it’s usually the best way to go.
Keeping a senior active can reduce the risk of falls by improving strength, balance, coordination, and flexibility.
Doctors usually recommend seniors carefully monitored exercise programs or them to a physical therapist. The physical therapist can create a custom exercise program aimed at improving their balance, flexibility, muscle strength, and gait.
Use assistive devices
If it’s needed, or you want to be extra careful, you can invest in assistive devices such as handrails for both sides of stairways, nonslip treads for bare-wood steps, a raised toilet seat or one with armrests, grab bars for the shower or plastic seat for the shower or tub.
Also, a stairlift can safely take a senior up or down a flight of stairs.
Consider your senior loved one’s long-term safety, and make all the changes necessary to reduce risks.