September 23 marks the first day of autumn — and it’s also been designated as this year’s Falls Prevention Day. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one-third of Americans over the age of 65 fall at least once each year. These incidents are responsible for the majority of injuries to seniors, and the injuries run the spectrum from minor lacerations to bone fractures to traumatic brain injury. To keep your loved one safe from the dangers of falls, “fall proof” his or her home using these important tips:
1. Keep the floors clear
Magazines and newspapers on the floor, long electrical cords and other types of clutter can present a real hazard to your loved ones. Limit the chances of tripping by keeping floors free of clutter.
2. Provide wide walkways
Make sure furniture is arranged to give ample space for walking through a room. Check halls and stairs for items that block or impede movement.
3. Secure carpets and throw rugs
Loose throw rugs or carpets with curled-up edges are another common cause of slips and falls. Use double-sided carpet tape to keep floor coverings in place.
4. Maintain well-lit hallways and stairwells
Dim surroundings make it all too easy for seniors to miss a step. Check all light fixtures for their manufacturer-recommended limits, and use the highest wattage bulbs possible to brighten the way, especially in stairways and halls.
5. Install grab bars in bathrooms
Tiled bathroom floors can be extremely slippery, and climbing in and out showers of tubs is difficult for seniors. Make life a little easier and a lot safer with properly installed grab bars.
6. Place frequently-used items within easy reach
Keep your loved ones from stretching and straining for the items they use most often. Arrange kitchen utensils, toiletries and other important everyday supplies so they’re handy and readily available without the use of step stools.
7. Place no-skid mats in shower or tub
Choose mats that fit securely into the bathing space. Remember that the small suction cups on the underside will weaken with time, so replace mats that show signs of wear and tear.
8. Add a shower chair or bench in shower or tub
Help your loved one to feel safe while bathing with the addition of a shower seat. The right seat will also make entering and exiting the shower much easier.
9. Replace top-mounted shower heads with hand-held ones
Once seniors are seated in the shower, a hand-held shower head makes bathing a breeze — and it’s a real boon for caregivers, too.
10. Install light-sensitive night lights throughout the home
Use only night lights that turn on automatically when interior light fades. These handy night lights eliminate the need to fumble around searching for switches in the dark.
As we enter the fall season, take care to ensure that your loved ones are safe from slip and fall injuries. These few simple precautions can make a world of difference! We wish you a safe, happy and enjoyable autumn.