How to reduce falls in the home to protect your aging parent from broken bones
Did you know falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults? So how can you help your aging parents make their home fall-safe?
First, you can address the fall risks in your aging parent’s home, room by room. You both may be so used to the layout of their home and the way things are that you don’t notice the risks. You may not notice that the rug slips or the carpet is bunching. You may not even see that your parent struggles to get out of their favorite chair.
Take a look at everything as if you are a stranger in their home. Look at each space independently, and then consider transitions. For example, maybe their bedroom is safe and the bathroom is safe, but is the hallway that leads to the bathroom completely dark? Can you install a night light or motion senor lighting? What about the front porch and entry way? Is the front porch well lit? What about when they enter the home? Do they need to walk several steps in the dark before they can access a light switch? They may be used to it and not think it’s a big deal but they’ll be far safer if they can turn a light on immediately.
Be prepared for some push back from your aging parent, particularly if they are resistant to you stepping in and “taking over.” Rather than fighting your parent, suggest that you work together to come up with safe options for their home. This is a great opportunity to work together to identify risks and solutions together.
Fall Risks for Aging Seniors
Here is a quick guide to potential safety hazards in your aging parent’s home. Most of the fixes are simple and don’t cost a lot of money.
– Do they have a front porch?
– How is the lighting?
– Do they have a sturdy railing for the steps?
– Do they use a walker? If so, is there a ram for them to use? Have you seen them exit with their walker? If there are stairs, they are probably struggling to get down the front steps.
– Are there cracks that need to be leveled?
– How is the lighting in the front entrance?
– Does furniture block a clear entry?
– Is there a rug at the door? Is it secure on a non-stick mat?
– Are there rugs that can cause someone to slip or trip?
– Are there phone cables or power cords in walkways?
– Are there clear walkways?
– Is there enough room to maneuver the room? Is the coffee table too close to the table or is there enough room to get around a side table?
– Are the floorboards or carpeting loose? Carpet can stretch and sag over the years, making it easy to trip.
– Is there ample lighting in the room?
– Is there ample lighting?
– Is there a clear pathway from the bed to the door?
– Are there rugs? Make sure they are secure.
– Are there phone cords or TV cables in walkways?
– Keep a flashlight in the nightstand in case there is a power outage.
– Install grab bars in the bathtub or shower and next to the toilet.
– Clean up water spills immediately.
– Place non-skid mats on surfaces that might get wet.
General Household Tips:
– Make sure all walkways are clear.
– Keep frequently used items easily accessible to avoid over reaching or dizziness after bending.
– Arrange furniture so there is sufficient room to move around and clear pathways of newspapers, magazines or boxes.
– Consider purchasing furniture that is an adequate height to make getting in and out of a chair easier.
– Put nightlights in each room so that no room is completely dark.
Have you tackled your parent’s space to make it fall safe? What was the most surprising obstacle?