Keeping senior citizens from falling is a major priority for their family members and caregivers. So far in our discussion of this topic (see Parts 1, 2 & 3) we’ve already considered the importance of getting rid of clutter, meeting with an organization specialist, and removing unused furniture and unsafe rugs. We’ve also talked about hiring either a home care or home health care provider to help and spend time with your loved one on an ongoing basis. In this our final article, we’ll consider some more practical tips for improving your aging family member’s chances of avoiding a devastating fall.
Include Grab Bars and Hand Rails in Strategic Locations
One of the advantages of working with a knowledgeable home health provider is that they can give you helpful advice about where to place grab bars and handrails inside and outside of your elderly loved one’s home. Most people consider obvious places, such as alongside staircases. Some other places you would commonly want to have grab bars would be beside the shower, tub, and toilet. Make sure to hire an expert to install this potentially life-saving equipment. This should be someone with a solid reputation in your local area who will know the right size, placement, installation methods, and products to use for this much-needed project.
Provide Safety Equipment in the Bathroom
Bathrooms are notorious places where slip and fall accidents occur. Make sure your loved one is prepared to use the shower, tub, and toilet without an unnecessary fall risk by adding safety equipment. This can be a secure bench and slip-resistant rubber mat for use in the shower as well as a high seat for the toilet. These features, along with your grab bars, can greatly improve safety in the bathroom.
Ensure Adequate Lighting
Bright light bulbs and plenty of easy-to-access lighting options can reduce your elderly loved one’s risk of stumbling in the dark. You can find motion sensing lamps and lights that will turn on automatically or with a simple touch. These are often easier for elderly people to use than traditional light switches. Another must-have item is a night light. You can set these up in every room of the house in order to make sure your aging family member is never left navigating through the house in complete darkness. CFL “full-spectrum” light bulbs are a great option for people with vision problems.
Exercise Caution With Pets
As emotionally supportive as a pet may be for an older person who lives alone, they can sometimes create a fall risk. A small cat or dog who just wants to snuggle may accidentally cause their elderly owner to trip and fall. If your loved one is at great risk of falling and is at all open to the idea, ask them if they would be willing to let a family member house their pet. That way, they could still come over and visit their little furry friend without the constant danger of accidentally tripping over their beloved cat or dog. If they completely refuse to allow the pet to stay with a family member, consider enlisting a home care provider to help with the pet. Along with their other tasks, the care provider could be responsible for giving the pet food and water, taking them on walks, and making sure they make it to their grooming appointments.
When it comes to the elderly, there’s no foolproof method of completely eliminating their risk of falling. All of these preventative measures, however, can go a long way toward keeping your aging loved one safe.