April 26, 2017

The Effects of Aging on Home Safety and Fall Risk

Falls are the number one cause of injuries and injury-related deaths among older Americans. This is because as we age, our senses decrease in strength and sensitivity, causing vision, hearing loss and imbalance. For older adults, these changes increase the risk of falling, even in familiar places like their home. Often, an incident such as a fall heralds the end of an elder’s independence. With more than 10,000 Americans turning 65 each day, the number of fall-related injuries and deaths is expected to surge, unless preventive measures are taken.

The following are a few basic tips for elders and caregivers alike. These strategies can significantly help lower one’s risk for a fall:

  1. Consider a medical alert system
  2. Remove clutter from the home
  3. Remove throw rugs or secure rugs with double sided tape
  4. Secure carpeting throughout the home, especially on staircases
  5. Replace standard doorknobs with levered handles
  6. Place and secure all electrical cords out of traffic areas
  7. Rearrange furniture to allow wide passageways in all rooms
  8. Use high watt light bulbs where possible for maximum brightness
  9. Place flashlights next to the bed, in the kitchen, and in bathrooms in case of power outage
  10. Use nightlights in long hallways, bedrooms, kitchen and bathrooms
  11. Install light switches at the top and bottom of all staircases
  12. Install sturdy handrails on BOTH sides of the staircase
  13. Install grab bars in the shower and on the sides of the toilet
  14. Place a rubber mat or non-skid strips on the bottom of the bathtub
  15. Install a shower seat and hand–held shower head
  16. Install a raised toilet seat

Healthcare providers should make fall prevention a routine part of care in their practice, but older adults can be proactive by following these easy steps to protect themselves. For more information on falls prevention in older adults, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0922-older-adult-falls.html

This blog is courtesy of Michelle Mazzone, Nurse Coordinator, for the Shapiro-Rudolph Adult Day Health Center in Peabody, MA.