Every 11 seconds an older adult falls and is rushed to the emergency room. Every 19 minutes an older adult dies from a fall, making falls the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries among older Americans.
One-third of Americans aged 65+ will suffer from a fall this year. Falls are going to happen, but that’s not to say that they can’t be prevented. By making a few changes around the house and raising your awareness, you can help lower the number of falls occurring each year.
Identify Problem Areas
Walk around your house and scan every room for areas that might be susceptible to falls. This can include, but is not limited to:
- Cluttered areas.
- Dark or not well-lit areas.
- Exposed wires and cords.
- Bathrooms and other rooms where slips can easily occur.
Make a Clear Path
Attempting to walk over items or around furniture will increase your risk of falls. Eliminate clutter and make a clear path throughout your house. You should be able to walk freely from room to room.
Tie up and secure any wires or cords to prevent trips. Tape down or get rid of any throw rugs as they tend to be a falls offender.
Many trips occur due to reaching for commonly used items. Make sure items that are used regularly are easily accessible. To lessen clutter on countertops or cabinets, pack away seasonal items or items that are rarely used.
Keep a Well-Lit House
Wandering around in the dark is a recipe for disaster. Small items hiding in the shadows will increase fall risk. Keep a well-lit house by lighting dark hallways and corners and installing night lights to illuminate your path. This will prevent obstacles during those late night trips to the bathroom. Speaking of bathroom…
Fall Proof your Bathroom
The bathroom is the number one place that falls occur. Fall-proof your bathroom by:
- Using a non-skid shower mat.
- Having a rubber backed mat outside of the shower.
- Installing a shower seat if standing and bathing is an issue.
- Never using a toilet paper holder or towel rack to support your weight.
Ensure Hand Rails are Sturdy
Falls sometimes occur because trust is placed in an old railing or hand rail that fails. Test these railing by slowly applying pressure to them. If the railings appear weak or loose, make it a point to get them fixed. Use a cane or rolling walker if you are having trouble getting around the house.
- Keep your cell phone on you at all times in case a fall occurs.
- Do not walk up or down stairs while carrying items.
- Avoid wearing long night gowns or robes as they tend to be tripping hazards.
- Wear appropriate footwear. Avoid slippers, socks or stockings.