Falling is a dangerous reality for many seniors. It is in fact one of the biggest risks that the elderly face in their own home. As we get older, our bones become more brittle and more likely to break after a fall. They also take longer to heal. Taking steps now, to prevent falling, is a far better alternative than dealing with the aftermath of a fall.
Here are 10 ways to prevent falling. Fortunately, as you will see, these measures mentioned are quite simple and easy to implement.
1. Stay Physically Active
Physical activity is key to building muscle strength and improving balance, flexibility and coordination, all of which lower the risk of falling. You don’t have to indulge in strenuous exercise to get the benefits. Gentle, low-impact activities such as walking, tai chi, yoga, and water workouts can go a long way towards preventing falls.
If you feel unsteady on your feet or you are recovering from an injury, ask your physical therapist to recommend rehabilitation exercises that can help you stay active within your limitations.
2. Wear Sturdy, Sensible Shoes
Bedroom slippers and flip-flops may look cute and comfortable, but they increase the risk of slipping and falling. Walking around in socks or stockings is just as dangerous. On the other hand, sturdy, well-fitted shoes with nonskid soles are by far the safest footwear to wear around the house. Make sure to always tie your shoe laces. If you find that tying shoes becomes too tiresome, find a pair with Velcro fasteners for easy-on and easy-off accessibility.
3. Keep Rooms Clutter-Free
A book, box or even a sock strewn carelessly around the room can be a fall hazard. Clear the clutter, especially around high traffic areas to make your home safer.
Take a look around and remove anything that’s blocking the walkways and staircase – if you have one. Rearrange your furniture to create a clear passage. Tuck in that phone cord that’s trailing too far out from the wall. These little things will allow you to walk around your home confidently without worrying about tripping and falling over something.
4. Fall-Proof the Bathroom
It’s not surprising that most falls happen in the bathroom. The wet flooring makes for a dangerously slick and slippery surface. Don’t wait for an accident to happen. Do the following to fall-proof your bathroom:
• Install sturdy grab bars in the shower and tub area. These will provide adequate support so you can get in and out safely.
• Install handrails around the sink to prevent skidding on water splashes.
• Place nonskid mats on the shower floor and at the sink so you have a firm surface to stand on while showering or brushing your teeth.
• Purchase a shower chair if feel unsteady when standing for longer periods.
• Outfit your toilet with a raised seat that has armrests. This will make it easier to sit down and get off the toilet while also reducing the risk of slipping.
5. Repair or Remove Slip and Trip Hazards
Very often, it’s the small things that get overlooked that create the most damage. For example, a simple tear in the carpeting or a loose wooden floorboard can cause you to trip as you rush to answer the doorbell. That beautiful area rug can skid over your hardwood flooring if it’s not properly secured. Spend some time on preventive measures to prevent the unfortunate from happening.
Repair those loose floorboards and torn carpeting right away. Secure loose rugs with a slip-resistant rug pad or double-sided tape. Better still, remove them. Don’t compromise when it comes to your safety.
6. Keep Your Home Brightly Lit
Our vision does get poorer as we age, making it harder to see that tear in the carpet or objects lying around on the floor. Placing night lights in the bedroom, bathroom, and hallways can help provide safe passage when you wake up at night. Never attempt to walk around in the dark, especially up or down a staircase.
7. Install Hand Railings Along the Stairways
Stairs are incredibly hazardous, even with the lights on. A fall down the stairs can result in debilitating injuries. Installing handrails along the stairway is the best way to steady yourself while ascending or descending the stairs.
8. Clean Spills As Soon As They Happen
Water, oil, and food spills are inevitable in the kitchen and dining room. If something spills, don’t wait until later to clean it up. During the course of the day, you are bombarded with multiple tasks that vie for your attention making it all the more likely you’ll forget about that mess… and possibly slip on it later.
9. Use Assistive Devices If Needed
If you feel unsteady on your feet or you’re recovering from an injury and struggling with balance, an assistive device can help you walk around more steadily without the fear of falling.
10. Move Around More Carefully
Preventing falls is as simple as just taking your time and moving around more carefully. Take your time when standing up from a sitting position. Pause and take your time before walking up and down the stairs or when getting in and out of the shower or tub. It may take you longer to get things done, but that’s much better than the risk of falling while rushing around.
Do what you can now to protect yourself from a tragic fall as it is clearly better than suffering the effects (physical and mental) from a fall.
Don’t feel the need to implement all of these measures at once. Start with one measure at a time and adopt the others as you’re able. Soon, you’ll be well on your way to preventing an untimely fall. Stay safe!