Approximately one-third of seniors over the age of 65 fall each year and the National Council on Aging (NCOA) reports 75% of all such falls occur either in the home or close to home. The NCOA cautions that over 9500 seniors die of falls each year and as seniors age, the risk for falls becomes much greater with about half of all seniors over the age of 80 experiencing at least one fall. Once a senior is injured, there is a higher likelihood of another fall. Even more concerning is out of those who fall, approximately half have a difficult time getting up again. Seniors who fear falling can become isolated and depressed—providing a senior with a safe environment helps them physically and mentally. Putting together a safety plan can help seniors with their fear while also decreasing the risk of a fall.
Safety at Home
Some of the actions you can take to keep a senior safe are to carefully assess the home and make needed changes to increase the safety of the elder. Start outside of the house. Look for:
- Broken steps
- Loose handrails
- Inadequate lighting
Inside the home, beginning with the kitchen, try to make sure the most used items are within arm’s reach so a senior will not have to use a stepstool or ladder to reach utensils, dishes, pots or pans. You also want to check for other hazards:
- Loose area rugs
- Leaks from appliances or pipes
Stairs can prove to be hazardous for seniors when there is not enough lighting. Make sure there is lighting upstairs and downstairs. You can also look for:
- Steps covered with household items
- Slippery steps from polish or oils
- Unsecure handrails
In the other rooms of the house, make sure there is enough light. Open curtains as much as possible during the day. Put lamps at the entrance to the bedroom and make sure there are no loose cords on the floor.
In the bathroom, consider having grab bars professionally installed and make sure all rugs have rubber backing to prevent slips.
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In addition to making the home safe, there are some other options to help seniors avoid falls. The NCOA highlights some workshops offered within local communities:
- A Matter of Balance where seniors can learn how to overcome their fear of falling as well as what to do in a fall.
- The Otago Exercise program can help increase muscle strength and balance in older adults.
- Stepping On offers seniors ways to reduce falls and has been effective in decreasing the rate of falls by 30%.
- Tai-Chi is another option where seniors can learn how to balance and practicing Tai-Chi has resulted in a decrease in falls of 55% among the elderly.
As we celebrate National Falls Prevention Month and National Falls Prevention Awareness Day on September 23, 2019, the team at Bratton Law is also committed to keeping your loved one safe. Contact us to see how we can help you.