According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one-third of Americans aged 65 and older fall each year, making such accidents the primary cause of emergency room visits for seniors. Falls are also, sadly, a leading cause of fatal injury for this age group. Indeed, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall every 13 seconds, and every 20 minutes, a senior dies from a fall-related injury.
Slips and falls can create special hardships for older people, resulting in broken bones that take longer to heal and increased mobility problems while recovering, both of which can challenge a senior’s ability to stay on their own at home. Fortunately, there are simple changes that can be made around the house to lessen the risk of accidental falls.
Following are suggestions from AARP to help keep “home sweet home” a safe one, too. If you see opportunities for improvement in the homes of those in your care, be sure to talk with them and their families about making these changes. They’ll thank you for it!
- Install carpet with short, dense pile.
- Secure rugs with double-sided carpet tape and make
- Make sure electrical and extension cords are out of the way.
- Keep exits and hallways open.
- Provide bright, evenly distributed light.
- Use lampshades that reduce glare.
- Make sure light switches and electrical outlets are easy to reach.
- Use nightlights.
- Put handrails on both sides of stairways.
- Make sure steps are in good repair.
- Use non-skid contrasting tape, rubber stair treads, or coated, skid-resistant surface treatment on non-carpeted stairs in one-inch intervals. Use three long strips of tape on each step.
- Check carpeting to make sure it is firmly attached along stairs. Make immediate repairs to worn or loose carpet.
- Choose a carpet pattern that doesn’t hide step edges, making it look like steps have ended when they haven’t.
- Remove any rugs at the top or bottom of stairways.
- Use at least 60-watt bulbs in stairways and have on-off switches at the top and bottom of stairs.
- Get sturdy stepstools — preferably with handrails — to reach upper shelves.
- Avoid using floor wax.
- Use rubber bathmats or strips in bathtubs and showers.
- Install at least two grab bars in the bath.
- Secure bathroom rugs to the floor.
- Use raised toilet seats and/or install handrails near the toilet.
- Be sure there is adequate lighting to get safely in and out
of the house.
- Install handrails along any flight of outdoor steps.
- Buy sand or salt for icy walkways.
- Keep steps, sidewalks, decks and porches clear of newspapers, and sticks, rocks, wet leaves and other debris.
- Repair broken or uneven pavement on walkways and driveways.
- Remove shrub or tree roots sticking out of the ground.
- Be proactive. If you live an a multi-unit complex, notifying your property manager about any of the above.
- Again, be proactive. Make a list and take immediate action
– don’t delay!
Not all falls create great injuries, of course, but why take chances? Take a moment and give safety in your client’s home — and your own — serious consideration.
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