How to Prevent Falls in the Home
By Lisa Cini, ASID, IIDA ~
If you are a senior, falling is a common problem and leads to a loss of independence, hospitalization, lack of confidence, and in some cases death. Each year in the USA one in four people over 65 years old experiences a fall. Avoiding falls in the first place is a vital aspect of living independently for seniors. Here’s how to prevent accidents in the home and make living independently a positive experience.
Assess Your Living Space
One of the first priorities for living independently and safely is to take a look at the space where you live. Is there a phone within easy reach? Are there rugs on a polished floor surface? How easy is it to get around your room? Is clutter posing a hazard? Do you need better lighting? A few simple adjustments can mean the difference between falling and living independently safely.
Get Safe Flooring
Making your floor as safe as possible is essential for preventing falls. Invest in anti-slip tiles for bathrooms and kitchens to avoid sliding on water spillages or polished surfaces. Make sure any rugs have anti-slip fixtures underneath to avoid slipping across the floor. Consider a contrasting color for steps and rails to make them easier to see. And since your feet spend so much time on the floor, make sure you have well-fitting shoes and slippers. Avoid flip-flops and flimsy footwear as these easily lead to trips and slips.
Consider the Lighting
Lighting equipped with sensors to come on when movement is detected is very helpful for stairs and bathrooms – any room, really. Amber colored night lights help with seeing around the home at night.
Install Handrails to Keep You Steady
Having a handrail in any high-risk place, such as the shower or stair, is another example of an easy adjustment to prevent falls.
Make the Garden Safe
Gardens are full of hazards so make sure your green space is as safe as possible. Clear moss and old leaves from the paths to minimize the risk of slippery spaces. When it is icy, make sure you have some grit and someone to clear your paths. Avoid too many pots and ornaments as they are easy to trip over. Install lighting so you can see your way along paths in the dark. Do remember that you don’t have to do all the work in the garden or house; you can get help from others to do the heavier jobs, which lessens your risk of falling.
Clearing clutter from steps and floors helps you to avoid slips and trips. Don’t leave things lying around on the floor where they can cause a hazard. And avoid trailing wires when using electrical items.
Keep Things Within Reach
Stretching and balancing on step ladders to get things on high shelves or in awkward places leads to falls. Make sure you organize your living space so things you use frequently are within easy reach and you don’t need to climb on steps. Avoid carrying too much at one time as this can set you off balance, resulting in a fall. , and keep things you use frequently in an easy-to-reach place.
Do Some Posture Exercises
There are classes offering Pilates and other exercise programs designed to help you avoid falling by maintaining good balance and posture techniques. These maintain strength and teach ways to avoid falling. Some exercises are chair-based, but most are gentle and set at a pace that the group can follow. Footwear is important in the prevention of falls. Give yourself time to adjust when moving from a sitting position. This helps you avoid dizziness from changes in blood pressure.
Taking these few easy steps to make your living space safer will help you avoid falls and stay independent for longer in your home.
Lisa Cini, ASID, IIDA is an award-winning, internationally-recognized designer with more than 25 years’ experience developing interiors that improve quality of life for seniors and help us all deal with aging parents and prepare for our own future living experience. Author of BOOM: The Baby Boomers Guide to Leveraging Technology, so that you can Preserve Your Independent Lifestyle & Thrive, The Future is Here: Senior Living Reimagined, and Hive: The Simple Guide to Multigenerational Living, based on her social experiment of living in a 4-generation household and the positive impact design can have in a home for seniors with dementia. As a boomer living designer, Lisa, searches the world for the best technology to help people age in place and brings them all together on: www.BestLivingTech.com.