Trips and falls are one of the leading causes of injury amongst the elderly. The consequence of these falls can often result in both nonfatal and fatal injuries. Bruises, abrasions, breaks, fractures and head injuries caused by a fall are much harder to recover from when the individual is older. Even when there isn’t an injury, whether it is serious or not, it can still be upsetting for a senior to experience, especially if they live alone.
Typically, seniors fall due to tripping or slipping on an obstacle, their own feet or by losing grip of the ground. Elderly individuals are also more likely to have a reduced muscle strength and slower reactions and reflexes, this can make it difficult to keep their balance or react fast enough to save themselves or alter their movements to prevent a fall. Poor vision is another reason why older people are more likely to trip, as their perception of space and recognition of the objects around them is hindered. Poor vision can cause an individual to either overcompensate or underestimate their movements.
Falls are dangerous to seniors as their bodies are much more fragile and recovery takes considerably longer. Learning how to prevent falls within the home and preparing living spaces to create a safer environment can make the elderly feel much more comfortable and secure in their abilities around the home.
These steps and tips advise a few small but effective changes to help prevent older people from falling within their home.
De-Clutter and Tidy
Ensuring the living space and in particular, the walkways and stairways within the home are free from clutter is vital for preventing trips and falls. It is important to remove all unnecessary objects from hallways and stairs and try to be diligent about not placing items there again. When an individual is accustomed to their home and has learnt where there are obstacles, they are less likely to fall. Trip hazards are created when an object is out of place, or a new object has been brought into the home that the owner is not aware of. By storing objects in the same place within the home and informing the occupier of when a new item is brought in, should help prevent trips and falls.
Remove Tripping Hazards
Rugs or loose carpet can cause falls. If they cannot be repaired or fixed into position, it is wise that they are removed from the home or replaced with an alternative.
Handrails are a hugely beneficial addition to a senior’s home. Placing them on both sides of any staircase in the property allows for additional support and stability as the individual is moving from one space to another. It is also helpful to have handrails in the bathroom, both by the toilet, around the bath and in the shower. Getting on and off the toilet and in and out of showers and baths can take a surprising amount of strength and balance, having these additional safety devices in these areas could help prevent a fall.
Install Non-Slip Mats
Specialist mats can be placed in the shower cubicle and in baths to prevent the user from slipping when the surface becomes wet, therefore assisting the user with the ease of getting out of the cubicle or tub. Non-slip mats can also be acquired for other rooms in the house and are particularly beneficial for tiled floors.
Rooms, hallways and stairways that are poorly lit can cause trips and falls within the home. By installing lighting overhead that enables better visibility of the walkway will make the property more suitable for the elderly. Lights that have movement sensors or automatically switch on at a certain time of day are beneficial as the room will be well-lit at a pre-set time as well as being activated when the person moves into the room.
Well-fitting shoes or slippers, that have non-slip soles should be worn by older people within the home. Socks may be more comfortable, but they can also cause slips and falls due to the lack of grip.
Not only are regular eye checks important for monitoring the health of your eyes, they are also hugely beneficial to prevent trips and falls. If an individual has glasses with the correct prescription, they are more likely to see obstacles and trip hazards which can mean they avoid a fall.
Preventing seniors from falling can prevent them from an injury that could be either fatal or non-fatal, either way, it may well be frightening. By taking these small steps and ensuring the home is well equipped and free from hazardous objects can help to keep them safe.
Have you removed trip hazards and prepared your friends or loved one’s home to prevent a fall? Let us know via our social media channels and if you need any more elderly advice, take a look at our recent features.