7 easy steps you can take to help your aging parents or older loved ones reduce their risk of a fall.
Let’s face it, the older you get, the more likely you can be seriously injured from a fall. The Center for Disease Control reports one in five falls causes injuries such as a broken bone or head trauma. That only gives you four falls to avoid an injury.
That gap is too small. Especially when the CDC says that if this continues to rise, they expect there to be seven deaths due to fall every hour. And they expect this by the year 2030.
Also, as we age, we experience physical and mental ailments that make it even harder for us to get around. Things like pain in the feet or legs, vision problems, and weakness or balance issues in the body. Even some of the medicines you may be taking can cause symptoms that increase the risk of falls, like those that cause drowsiness.
What can be almost as bad as a fall itself, is the fear of falling. It’s easy to think about the potential for falls, especially when we don’t have safety precautions in place. To help ease this fear, and to decrease the chances of falls, there are steps you can take.
Below are seven ways to prevent falls in aging parents at home.
1. Install Bars and Rails
You have probably felt scared before when climbing in or out of the bath, or when getting out of the bed in the morning when your body feels stiff. You stumble just a little, but the fear of falling is big, and it runs through your whole body.
Installing grab bars and handrails are an inexpensive way to make you feel secure in every part of your home. It’s okay to have a grab bar or handrail in every room in your home. They can be easily installed by your local handyman and in a short time, you provide a more secure home environment.
2. Use Anti-Slip Products
Another inexpensive tip to prevent falls in aging parents at home is to place anti-slip products in areas where falls can happen. In the bathroom, both inside and outside the bathtub or shower. In the kitchen in front of the sink and refrigerator where spills may happen. On stairs, beside your bed and in your laundry, room are a few other places for floor treads that keep you from slipping.
3. Stair Lifts
One option to preventing falls in aging parents at home is to move everything to one level. Not everyone will want to give up part of their home, however. For those, installing a stair lift can help them achieve the goal of living in their whole home.
There are many options when it comes to stair lifts, from standing lifts to chair lifts, from permanent to portable. Working with local experts can help you choose the right lift to meet the needs of your parent.
4. Help Aging Parents See
Some falls happen because the lighting in the home is not as bright as it needs to be. As we age, eyesight can decline. It’s easy to overlook this when we choose lighting. It may have been easy to live with just a few overhead lights in each room, but now more is needed.
To make a senior’s home safer, add light to floors, by the bed, where the telephone is kept, under cabinets, and in specific areas where your parent spends most of their time.
Aside from lighting, helping them see better means keeping up with their eye health. Check to make sure their glasses are the right lens strength. Get them to eye appointments. Ask the eye doctor for suggestions.
5. Know Their Medicines
Medicines can be extremely beneficial. They can also have side effects that can make them susceptible to falling. Knowing the side effects is just one part of examining medications. Another part is to make sure your parent is taking the medication as it is prescribed.
If they miss a dose, or take a double dose by accident, this could lead to a fall. If their medicines are causing an unexpected interaction, this could cause problems. A great safety tip is to learn everything you can about their medication regimen, and ensuring they take them as prescribed, will benefit your parent.
Your parent has spent a lifetime accumulating items they enjoy and that make them happy. Some of these things may have become a hazard in their home. When younger, a magazine rack next to a sofa, a floor lamp next to the bed, or a mini statue in the hallway were not of concern.
Today, they could cause your parent to trip and fall and possibly injure themselves. De-clutter does not necessarily mean you must throw things away. Instead, rearrange them so they are less dangerous and can remain an adored item.
One of the best things you can do to fall proof your parent’s home is to walk around their home as if you are them. Walk like they walk and notice everything in their path that could cause a fall.
These things may include cats, dogs, electrical cords, plants or throw rugs. Anything that is a potential hazard must be dealt with properly.
7. Have a Plan B
You can install every safety product on the market and your parent may still slip and fall. What they do next should be a plan already put into place, before the fall.
Installing alert systems throughout the home, voice activated devices, and even the life alert necklace are a few ideas. If your parent falls and you are not there, they can reach out for help using the monitoring and security systems you put into place.
In conclusion, the goal is to keep your parent happy and healthy for as long as possible in the home they love and want to live in. From eating a healthy diet to installing safety devices, there are many ways to prevent falls in aging parents at home.