November is Fall Prevention Month in Canada, which was created to raise awareness of the significant danger falling poses to older people’s health.
In Canada, it’s estimated that between 20 and 30 percent of older adults fall each year. Falling is the number one cause of injuries in people over 65, and can result in fractures, cuts, bruises, and potentially fatal head or brain trauma. Even if injuries from a fall are relatively minor, the experience might shake the senior so much that they may avoid certain activities for fear of falling again.
The concern over falling is especially prevalent inside the home, where people move around with less caution due to a false sense of security. It’s especially dangerous when someone who lives alone falls, can’t get back up, and doesn’t have the means to call for help within reach. It could be hours or even days before they’re discovered.
For these reasons, fall prevention must start with creating a living space where older adults can move around safely.
10 Ways to Prevent Falling in the Home
Making changes to ensure your older loved one’s home is as fall-proof as possible doesn’t require extensive renovations. It only takes a few fundamental changes and some lifestyle adjustments to improve in-home safety.
Here are 10 ways to help prevent your loved one from falling at home:
- Remove all clutter: Keeping the home neat, tidy, and organized will help reduce falls, as well as improve the overall condition of the living space. Get rid of all clutter, such as piles of boxes, stacks of newspapers, and other objects on the floor, especially in hallways, staircases, and in front of doors.
- Get rid of tripping hazards: Look for tripping hazards such as extension cords, loose carpet, and slippery floor rugs in every room and hallway. They can either be secured or removed altogether. Tiles or wood floorboards that stick up should be replaced. All of these hazards can contribute to the risk of falling and lead to significant injury.
- Install adequate lighting: An inadequately lit home can be a dangerous home. Install brighter light bulbs where needed, especially in stairways and narrow hallways. You can also plug nightlights in the bedroom, bathrooms, and hallways and place a lamp within reach of the bed for needs in the middle of the night. Keep flashlights in easy-to-find places in the event of power outages, and advise your loved one to turn on the lights before going up or down the stairs.
- Use assistive devices: Many devices on the market help older adults get around their homes safely. These include handrails for both sides of stairways, non-slip treads for bare-wood steps, and grab bars for the shower or tub and toilet. You can also install a sturdy plastic seat, a non-slip mat, and a handheld nozzle in the shower to prevent falls while showering. If the older adult’s doctor recommends it, ensure your loved one uses a cane or walker in the home to keep them steady.
- Check medications: Certain medications that older adults take list dizziness as a side effect, which can lead to falls. Review medications with their doctor or pharmacist to discuss the potential side effects and have your older loved one take extra precautions while using the medication. Be sure to remind other caregivers about these side effects as well.
- Wear shoes or slippers: Going around the house in bare feet or socks presents a fall risk. Keep a pair of shoes, slides, or slippers for indoor use and recommend your loved one wear them. You can also purchase non-slip socks that have grips on the soles to help prevent slips.
- Avoid wearing baggy clothes: Loose-fitting clothes are comfortable but can become a tripping hazard if they bunch up or drag on the ground. Ensure that the older adult only wears properly fitting and well-hemmed clothes.
- Move with added care: Falls can happen when one moves too quickly, especially when using stairs or going from a sitting to a standing position and vice versa. Encourage your loved ones to take their time when moving, and hold onto something firm such as a handrail or heavy chair when possible.
- Live on one level: Your older loved one can avoid the falling hazards of using stairs by living entirely on one level. If that isn’t possible, try to move as much as possible onto the same floor to limit the trips they take up and down the stairs.
- Stay physically active: If their doctor approves it, older adults can also reduce their risk of falling by keeping physically active. Accompany your loved one on leisurely walks or to a favorite destination such as a nearby garden or coffee shop. They can also participate in water workouts, yoga, and stretching routines specially designed for older people. Staying physically active helps improve strength, balance, coordination, and flexibility – all of which can help prevent falls. If their doctor approves it, older adults can also reduce their risk of falling by keeping physically active. Accompany your loved one on leisurely walks or to a favorite destination such as a nearby garden or coffee shop. They can also participate in water workouts, yoga, and stretching routines specially designed for older people. Staying physically active helps improve strength, balance, coordination, and flexibility – all of which can help prevent falls.
When it comes to older adults, fall prevention fuels injury prevention. You want your older loved ones to be safe in their own home, so be sure to take the proper steps to ensure their living space is as hazard-free as possible.
If you feel an older person needs a little more supervision to keep them safe from falls in their home or anywhere, consider hiring outside help who can help protect and preserve their well-being.
Help with elder care in Etobicoke, Mississauga, and Brampton
When you need help caring for an older loved one, CareHop is only a phone call away.
We specialize in providing thoughtful, respectful, empathetic care that ensures that all of your loved one’s needs are met.
Our services include activities and casual companionship in which a caring team member accompanies your older loved one on outings and errands or keeps them company inside the home. CareHop caregivers always prioritize the health and well-being of our clients, so families can have peace of mind that their older relatives will always be looked after.
For more information about our programs that focus on your family’s needs, please feel free to contact us anytime.