Medical alarm and protection company LifeCall made the catch phrase “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up” part of our popular culture and the punchline of many jokes. But the reality is that falls by seniors that result in injury are nothing to laugh at. Many occupants of nursing homes spend their last days bedridden and immobile due to a series of events resulting from a fall in their home. A broken hip or other serious injury in an aging body incapable of fully healing is the surest way to go from a life of enjoyable independence to total reliance on others to complete basic life activities.
“Child proofing” is a top priority for new parents intent on preventing injuries to their rambunctious and curious toddlers. Half a century later, those children, now middle aged, may be required to return the favor, and “senior proof” their parents’ homes.
Here are a few tips to make the home safe and reduce the risk of falls:
- Get rid of area rugs! According to The Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, most falls occur on flat surfaces.
- Install grab handles in the shower and additional railings on stairs.
- Keep floors clear of clutter, extension cords, and unnecessary furniture.
- Install higher wattage bulbs and/or more light fixtures and switches to ensure that seniors with diminished eyesight can navigate safely.
- Place commonly used items within reach so as not to require stretching, balancing, or the use of a step ladder.
An online search for “assisting devices for the elderly” will provide a long list of safety items, convenience items, and services. Since the risk of falling can be reduced, but not completely prevented, a medical alert system is mandatory. Sadly, half of all seniors who spend hours on the floor after a fall die within six months, according to the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.
The two main contributing factors in falls are failing eyesight and difficulty with balance which is often related to medications. Take these simple precautions to make your home a fall-free zone! For additional tips or assistance with any aspect of aging and health, give me a call at 516-584-2007.