Falls prevention is an essential consideration for seniors and represents one of the most important steps we can take when helping elders ‘age in place.’ As we grow older our eyesight, balance, and reaction time may diminish gradually. Our bones become more brittle and injuries take longer to heal. Sometimes, just making a few simple changes around the home can help prevent a fall.
The bathroom is the most common place for falls to occur. For just a few dollars, placing an inexpensive rubber mat on the inside of a tub and a rug with a non-slip backing just outside of the tub can make a world of a difference. Grab bars help get into and out of the tub safely—we recommend 2 bars, one to hold as you step in and out, and one to hold while inside the tub. You should never expect a towel rack to support your weight. Instead, install an attractive grab bar and use it as a towel rack, too. A smaller hand-hold near the sink might also be helpful. Additionally, there are many types of raised toilet seats that can make the restroom easier and safer.
Surprisingly, many falls also occur in the bedroom. When waking in the morning or after a nap, people may be lightheaded at first. Take a moment to get your balance before you step away from the bed. A transfer handle bed rail may also be helpful.
Stairway safety is important, particularly for seniors. All staircases should have at least one sturdy railing running the full length on both sides—be sure the stairs themselves are in good repair. All entry doors and hallways should be well lit. HouseWorks suggests placing inexpensive automatic night lights throughout the home to improve visibility. It’s a good idea to place non-slip backings or double-sided tape on all entryway rugs, as this is a common source of slips and falls.
In the kitchen, reorganizing storage can make a world of difference. Possible measures include placing frequently used items in easily accessible cabinets and putting bulky or heavy items in the base cabinets or open shelves. HouseWorks recommends using the highest shelves for things that are used infrequently, like holiday items.
As we age, simply maneuvering around our home can become difficult. Try to move furniture and household items as needed to ensure there are clear, unobstructed walkways in each room. Make sure all power cords, cable TV and computer wires are neatly run along the walls—never put cables under carpet, as they can fray and cause a fire.
If you are concerned about an elder taking a shower safely, HouseWorks can provide a Caregiver trained to supervise showering while treating your loved one with respect and dignity. Simply call our main number, 617-928-1010 to speak with a Case Manager who can set things in motion. Our Home Modification Department is also a resource for families who want more information or would like to request an in-home evaluation.