Home is a place you can feel safe, relaxed and comfortable. However, your home can also have some major hazards that lead to falls. The reality is that a senior is treated every 11 seconds in an emergency room for injuries associated with falling in their home.
While falls can happen to even healthy, active people, fall-related injuries are a leading cause of early death. The risks especially significantly affect seniors. In fact, one in three people over the age of 65 falls, often resulting in life-changing injuries.
As you age, your reflexes and neuro-systems slow down and you start to lose your ability to quickly recover from a loss of balance. Further, if you are sedentary, your loss of muscle strength greatly increases your risk of falls. Thankfully, there are simple changes you can make to prevent falling in your home:
1. Tape down the edges of mats and rugs; consider removing area rugs to avoid tripping over them.
2. Cover loose cords.
3. Remove piles and stacked papers from floors and hallways.
4. Make sure you have good lighting near your bed, in hallways and at the top and bottom of stairways.
5. Add handrails to stairways and grab bars in bathrooms.
6. Put a bell on your cat or dog’s collar so you can easily hear where they are without getting up to look.
7. Wear shoes that are closed-toe, and have soles with rubber or other gripping material.
8. Move items on shelves and in cabinets so that they’re within easy reach
9. Use a shower chair and handheld shower head while bathing. Sit down to get dressed.
10. Install seat risers on toilets and chairs if they’re too low to easily stand up from a seated position.
11. Look at your medications. Some medicines have side effects like dizziness that may make you lose your balance. Ask your doctor if there are alternatives with fewer side effects or lower doses if you think they’re affecting your balance.
12. Keep your eyes in check. Make sure your glasses and contact lens prescriptions are up to date so you’re seeing as clearly as possible. Try not to use progressive lenses indoors, which can make it harder for you to notice contrast and depth.
13. Stay active. Go for walks, try yoga, or find senior exercise classes in your community. Staying active can help you maintain, and even improve, muscle strength and balance.
14. Keep in touch. Call your neighbors or children at a certain time each day, and ask them to check on you if they don’t hear from you