Falls are one the leading causes for hospital and emergency room visits for seniors. More than one out of four senior aged individuals experience falls every year, but only half of them report this incident to a medical professional according to the CDC. Falling incidents can be fatal or cause injury that might take away their style of independent living.
Even with if seniors were able bodied, living with loved ones, have in-home care or are part of an assisted living community, they are still at risk. Household things like uneven carpeting, clutter of objects, and poor lighting are just a few hazards that can make seniors fall and experience grave injury. Even without those obstacles, one’s own body balance can be the cause of a fall. To prevent these injuries, we gathered on methods on how to avoid these kinds of incidents.
Regarding Balance in Seniors
As seniors age, they are more likely to develop balancing problems, which can put them in risk of falls and fracturing. Balancing issues can be caused from factors like medication side-effects, muscular issues. Blood pressure problems, and many others. It might take more than a single visit from the doctor or the onsite medical staff in your assisted living community.
When to Seek Medical Help Regarding Balance
If you are experiencing the following problems…
- Unsteady movement
- Feelings of starting to fall or spin uncontrollably
- Blurry visions
- Confusion of the current location or time
Then it is time to seek medical attention. Schedule an appointment and make sure to bring a history of your medical issues and any medications you are taking. The doctor will be able to figure out if something you are taking or experienced in the past is causing these balancing issues. When visiting your doctor, also inform them of your current living conditions, especially if certain objects in your room were a common cause of your falling situation. They might suggest some ways to make their home safe from slip and fall hazards.
Ways to Prevent Falling Incidents in Seniors
The best way to combat falling incidents to stop it before it even happens. Regardless if you live alone, with family, or as part of a senior living community, you should the right steps to prevent the next falling situation. There are guides online like the one provided by the CDC on how to fall-proof your surroundings. To dive deeper on the subject, we provided several ways fall-proof your home right away.
Making Sure all Your Stairs are Safe
Falling while going up or down the stairs can be dangerous for seniors. According to certain studies, stairs are posing a growing problem as people grow older. The problem is bigger if stairs aren’t well maintained or have a current problem that is force people to use only one side of the stairs.
The solution for this is to keep the maintenance up on the stairs in seniors’ homes. The steps and flooring need to be in excellent condition at all times. This would mean taking care of loose steps, uneven carpeting, loose handrails, and other problems. You might want to invest in some upgrades like strong railings, brighter stairway lighting, and other improvements.
Preventing Falls in the Bathroom
Falls in the bathroom usually occur when a senior is getting in or out of the bathtub or when using the toilet. It can also occur when the floor is slippery from taking showers or using the faucet. Usually when bathroom falling incidents occur, people tend to grab ahold of a nearby towel bar or shower door handle to prevent the fall or to pull themselves up. It is advised to seniors that they shouldn’t do this. The reason why is because door handles and towel bars aren’t designed to handle the weight of a full sized adult. Other surfaces are not advised as they are likely to be slippery from wetness.
Because of this, seniors are advised to have grab bars installed into their bathrooms. Fortunate for those who live in senior living communities, grab bars are always installed in bathrooms.
Another thing to look into for your bathroom is the flooring. Some flooring like small textured tiles, are designed to prevent slips and falling injuries. Like grab bars, these types of floor are common in places like an assisted living community or other senior living spaces.
Avoiding Falls in the Bedroom
As seniors, there is always a risk of falling in the middle of the night, usually when one is going to the bathroom or to the kitchen. The cause of falls in the bedroom is usually attributed to bad lighting. Due to bad lighting, seniors are likely to bump or trip over an object and fall, causing a fracturing injury or even worse conditions.
The best solution for this is to have better lighting in the bedroom. Lamps, brighter light bulbs, and specially designed bedroom lightning is a starting point for improving your bedroom and preventing falling.
Preventing Falls in the Kitchen
Falling accidents that occur in the kitchen are usually due to reaching for items on higher shelves or places. This can occur by oneself or by using an unstable platform to reach something. Unstable platforms like old stools and chairs are risky and should be avoided by seniors.
To prevent this occurrence, invest in a reliable step stool that has a grab bar. If anything, ask someone to help bring items down to a level where they can be reached.
Other kitchen related fall incidents are due to the same ones that happen in the bathroom, slippery floors. Liquids from the sink or from cooking can make the floor slipper, thus leading to injury-causing falls. To remedy this, consider placing mats and flooring that have lots of traction for your kitchen flooring.
Looking out for Falling Hazards on Your Home’s Floors
In your home, hazards like misplaced electrical cords, uneven rugs, misplaced furniture, and others can lead to injury-causing falls. Misplaced/misarranged items and other forms of clutter need to be removed entirely. Arranging furniture is another method to prevent avoidable falling. Should the floors of the home be covered in carpets, remove them entirely or have them secured to the floor with carpenter’s tape.
A Change of Scenery by Joining an Assisted Living Community
If you feel unsafe due to a number of situations involving falling, perhaps it’s time for some changes. One possibility is investing in a personal emergency response device or a reliable cell phone in case you fall. If this has been a long time occurring problem, maybe it’s time for a change of environment and scenery. Any assisted living community and other senior living communities are created to prevent such incidents and accidents. They are also equipped with the right people and medical aid in case a fall does occur. If you are unsure if you an independent or assisted living community is not right for you, consider taking the Smart Choices Tool, as it can help determine if you are right for a senior living lifestyle.