7 Key Tips to Prevent Falls At Home
80% of older people say they want to live at home for as long as possible. To make this as safe as possible, it is important to try to prevent falls in the home.
Care at home is a personal decision and it’s up the older adult and their family members to decide whether the current house will allow the ageing parent to stay there. The factors which influence the choice are their health and financial status. That’s why it’s important to begin a home’s readiness check early on before one gets too old.
But since the home is so significant to older adults, we asked the Seniorcare.com Ageing Council, “What simple things can families and seniors do to make the home safer and more comfortable to age in place?
Assess the Home
Perform a falls prevention assessment. If you don’t know what to look for, hire a professional. Learn the things that reduce the likelihood of a fall. The reasons for falling are balance and gait, muscle weakness, and sensory problems.
Follow easy solutions, like removing rugs, installing grab bars and raising the toilet height, all of which can make a difference. Other longer term considerations are one-level housing, no-lip showers, wood or laminate flooring throughout the house, re-tile showers and add built-in lights.
Use Mobility Devices
Employ the help of walking sticks, walking frames, and hearing aids. Make sure all rooms are well-lit and analyze the space and look for needed changes to make mobility easier. Have a physical therapist assess the home. You can get these items HERE
Evaluate the home and decide what is the long-view (five to ten years from now.) Ask, what your physical condition will be, how will your mind function, and what will your budget be? Will the home fit your requirements? Hire a professional to walk through your home and teach you what to look for in the future.
Enhance the home with medication reminders and sensors that monitor when they open the refrigerator, go to the bathroom, or even when they head out the door.
Families need to encourage ageing parents to downsize their living space and reduce the number of things they have.
Many older people find it difficult to return home after a fall because of the stairs. Think about installing a stair lift or ramp or moving to a house with an elevator or without stairs. Seek help for the challenging tasks you have now, especially anything that involves climbing on ladders! You can get help with downsizing HERE
Care at Home Concerns
Planning must begin early because one’s health condition can change in a flash. The first place to start is to think through your future needs and ask:
- Will you live alone?
- Do you plan to live with a partner, a spouse, or an adult child?
- Think about your chronic illnesses and how will they affect your mental and physical health in the future?
- Will you need to use a wheelchair or walking frame?
- Will you need extra help with the daily living activities like dressing, cooking a meal or managing medications?
- Where do you plan to spend your day? Will you be in the kitchen, the bedroom, or living areas? Will you spend time outside in the garden?
- List out your physical limitations. Do you have trouble seeing, hearing, and bending? How are your balance and gait? Will the front and back door need modification for a wheelchair? Will you drive your car and how easy is it to access?
Evaluating the Rooms and Entrances
- Can a wheelchair, a scooter or a walker get through the entry? Are they wide enough? Be sure to measure the width and space around the entrance.
- Are counter heights easy to reach when standing or in a seated position?
- Can a wheelchair enter the shower stall and manoeuvre the room?
- Are the walls sturdy enough to hold grab bars and handrail safely?
- Can you equip the shower with a seat and a handheld showerhead?
- Is the bathroom flooring non-slip?
- Will the walls in the kitchen support adjustable-height counters?
- Can you lower the cabinets by three inches?
- Where are the appliances located in regards to the countertops? Can a person transfer food comfortably from one to the other?
- Are kitchen and cooking items easy to access? Are glass front doors installed for easy viewing?
- Is shelving installed for frequently used items?
Stairs and Lifts
- If the home is a two-story, are handrails on both sides of the stairwell?
- Is proper lighting installed on the stairs, at the bottom, and the top?
- Are the stairs wide enough to accommodate a stairllift?
You can get help re-configuring your home HERE
7. Safety Matters
Care at home is more than comfort; it’s more about preventing a fall. If a person can avoid a fall, she will lessen other health problems that may force her to leave the home.
Carol Marak is the editor at SeniorCare.com. She’s earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from the University of CA, Davis. Contact Carol at Carol@SeniorCare.com.