Simple Ways to Reduce Fall Risks for Older Adults During Falls Prevention Awareness Week

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Home Instead Senior Care® suggests timely tips to help prevent falls in the home

While staying home is often the best way for older adults to protect themselves from contracting or spreading COVID-19, certain areas of the house can pose other health risks for older adults. For example, frequented areas like the bathroom and bedroom can contain hazards that put an older adult at high risk of a fall.

According to the Center for Disease Control, an older American falls every second of every day – making falls the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for the aging population. While the instance of falls can increase with age, many slips or trips can be prevented with a watchful eye, inexpensive home modifications and a few practical lifestyle adjustments.

“As time goes on, the same place where we’ve created a lifetime of memories will naturally become more challenging to navigate,” said Lakelyn Hogan, gerontologist and caregiver advocate at Home Instead Senior Care. “The high risk of falls in the home shouldn’t scare us – but rather, empower us to take the right preventative measures to remain independent and safe for years to come.”

The National Council on Aging’s Falls Prevention Awareness Week (Sept. 21-25) is an ideal time to consider the effects of aging and make quick fixes to help reduce pitfalls in the home. Hogan recommends considering these age-friendly modifications to safeguard your space:

  • Spruce up the bathroom. Slick tile floors and tubs can pose high risk of falls and other accidents. Minimize potential slips in the bathroom by installing grab bars near the shower, tub and toilet. To make bathing easier, consider converting a showerhead to a hand-held version or with a trickle or pause showerhead, or adding a rubber mat or adhesive non-stick decals to the bottom of a tub.
  • Clean and rearrange. Clutter can make it difficult to get around and locate necessities. Don’t just clean around piles—eliminate them. Then, organize the house so frequently used items are at waist level, minimizing the need to bend or climb. Consider removing or securing throw rugs. Arrange furniture to make rooms easy to navigate and allow enough space to walk around furniture.
  • Rethink stairs. A trip up a staircase can be risky for many older adults. Proper handrails are a must where stairs are steep. If stairs become a dumping ground for items such as shoes, dedicate a different space in the house to store loose items. When climbing upstairs begins to feel arduous, consider installing a stair lift or moving a bedroom downstairs to cut down on the number of, and potential for, trips.
  • Adjust lighting. Inadequate lighting is a safety hazard and high fixtures often pose a problem for older adults who have difficulty changing out burned bulbs. Make sure the home and stairways are well lit and apply high-contrast colored tape to top and bottom of stairs and thresholds. Use a night light and/or leave a light on in the bathroom to reduce the risk of falls in the dark.
  • Consider adding smart features. A fall can be startling and upsetting, even if it happens in the home. In the event a fall does occur, devices like voice-controlled speakers, wrist detection services or medical alert bracelets can alert your family members or connect you to emergency services. This technology not only adds an extra layer of safety to the home, it can also help you feel more at ease.

Your home should be a safe and comfortable place to spend the golden years. Just like you would block off your schedule for a telehealth appointment or another important commitment, devote time to discussing and implementing changes in your home to reduce risks. Whether these simple fixes can be done in one weekend or over several weeks, consider it all time well spent to safeguard your health and safety for years to come.

For other age-friendly tips for the home and to learn more, visit http://www.HomeYourOwnWay.com. Or, for additional resources to recognize Falls Prevention Awareness Week, visit the National Council on Aging’s Fall Prevention website.

ABOUT HOME INSTEAD SENIOR CARE

Founded in 1994 in Omaha, Nebraska, the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise network provides personalized care, support and education to enhance the lives of aging adults and their families. Today, the network is the world's leading provider of in-home care services for seniors, with more than 1,200 independently owned and operated franchises that provide more than 80 million hours of care annually throughout the United States and 13 other countries. Local Home Instead Senior Care offices employ approximately 90,000 CAREGivers℠ worldwide who provide basic support services that enable seniors to live safely and comfortably in their own homes for as long as possible. Home Instead Senior Care franchise owners partner with clients and their family members to help meet varied individual needs. Services span the care continuum – from providing personal care to specialized Alzheimer’s care and hospice support. Also available are family caregiver education and support resources.

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Dan Wieberg
Home Instead Senior Care
+1 (402) 575-5970
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