How Independent Seniors Can Avoid Falling
By Brian Acton
Having a safe home - one that is relatively free of hazards - is important for people of all ages. But it’s especially true for seniors who aren’t as mobile as they used to be. While getting older doesn’t have to mean giving up your independence, it might mean you need to make some changes around the house to reduce fall risks.
Here are some tips for how independent seniors can avoid falling.
- Remove Clutter
Decluttering your home is a great way to keep clean and stay organized. But it also reduces the risk of falls by removing obstacles from the floor. Make sure to clear rooms and walkways of clutter and décor that introduces the risk of trips and falls.
- Light the Way
A dark home could be full of tripping hazards you won’t see until it’s too late. Make sure your home is well lit when you’re walking around, as a lack of visibility could cause a dangerous fall. Stock your pantry with plenty of extra light bulbs and install night lights in commonly visited areas such as bathrooms. Keeping a flashlight handy in every room can also help.
- Keep Items Within Reach
When you’re constantly bending to pick things up off the floor or reaching to grab things off a high shelf, you’re putting yourself at greater risk of injury. Try keeping commonly used items off the floor but within arm’s reach. Tips include:
- Keeping pots, pans, and other commonly used kitchen items at a moderate height in your kitchen.
- Keeping cleaning supplies off the floor and in higher cabinets, rather than under the sink.
- Installing shelves in your garage and/or basement so you aren’t picking boxes up from the floor.
4. Avoid Shower Slips
The bathroom is one of the riskiest places in the home for falls, and the humidity and water makes the floor slippery. You can reduce the risk of falls with these steps:
- Place nonslip mats on the floor, including on the floor of your shower and on the floor of the bathroom. Mats should have grips on the bottom to keep them in place.
- Install grab bars on the sides of the shower so you have something to grab onto when unsteady.
- Install a raised toilet seat on your toilet that reduces the distance required to sit and stand.
Regular exercise promotes good balance, strengthens your muscles, increases coordination, and improves bone density. A regular exercise program is a great way to help prevent falls.
- Prepare for a Fall
Even with the best laid plans, accidents happen. Make sure you’re prepared just in case you do fall. Always keep a cell phone or emergency alert bracelet on your person, and make sure you’re in regular communication with friends, family, and neighbors.