Community Blog

Senior Fall Prevention Starts at Home

By Debbie Humphrey

Home Sweet Home.” Many of us remember seeing a hand-embroidered, framed rendition of this popular phrase on Grandma’s wall, usually in the foyer. “Home is where the heart is” and where we feel most safe and secure. Unfortunately, for Grandma and many other seniors, home can be a very dangerous place unless certain steps are taken to ensure that Grandma’s steps are safe ones!

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Stairs are an obvious risk for seniors falling

As we wrap-up September and Senior Fall Prevention Awareness Month, it is important to recognize the areas in the home that can be most treacherous for the elderly.

If you or your loved one does not live in a one-level residence, be careful with stairs. Stairs are an obvious danger for older individuals, especially those who have undergone hip or knee replacements. For mature adults, one miss-step can lead to serious non-fatal injuries like broken bones, or more critical fatal injuries to the head, neck and spine. Hand rails are definitely a great idea, but also make sure the stair surfaces are not slick.

One of the most slippery surfaces in the home is the bathtub or shower. Be sure to apply non-slip appliqués to the bottom of the tub or shower and put hand rails in place as extra measures of precaution.

Throw rugs can be a hazard, especially older ones with little or no rubber backing. One step taken too quickly and a throw rug will slip out from under the feet, causing a hard, injurious landing. Apply double-faced tape to secure rugs to hard floors, or remove them entirely to avoid such mishaps.

Since many seniors shuffle their feet when they walk, make necessary repairs to floorboards, carpets, tile and linoleum so they do not suddenly snag their toe, which can ultimately take them down.

Proper lighting is always a good idea, but especially in hallways and stairwells, because being able to adequately see the path ahead, provides a much safer journey. Install brighter bulbs or new light fixtures where needed.

In as much as elderly folks like to save everything, clutter can be a huge risk for tripping and falling. Remove items from floors and find them a “home” that makes sense, where the aging owner can find them. The fewer things a person has to negotiate around when making their way from one room to another, the less likely a fall will occur.

It is important for seniors to wear shoes, even when at home. Stocking feet can slip and slide on hard floor surfaces, where shoes can help support the feet, ankles and knees, as well as maintain traction, even on carpet.

The skilled caregivers at Home Helpers are experts at senior fall prevention, and they can assist in identifying areas of the home in need of attention. To schedule an in-home evaluation or receive more information about ways to make the home “fall-proof” for seniors, call Home Helpers today: 727-942-2539.