Fall Safety Tips for the Elderly

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Falls are an all-too-common occurrence among seniors. According to Aging.com, every eleven seconds an older adult is taken to the emergency room due to a fall. And every 19 minutes, an aged citizen dies due to injuries from a fall.

As you age, it’s essential to recognize your body is not as agile as it once was. Falls, slips, and trips can happen at any time, but there are fall safety tips you can follow to lower your risk of experiencing an accident in your home.

Are You at Risk of Falling?

There are many risk factors associated with falling, especially for those over 65. As we age, our bodies develop difficulties with walking and balancing, increasing our risk of slipping.

Some of the top fall risk factors include:

  • Being over 65
  • Not getting enough vitamin D
  • Use of medicines that affect balance
  • Impaired vision
  • Foot problems or improper footwear
  • Weak bones
  • Cluttered walkways

If you’re at risk of slipping or falling, take proactive measures to make your home fall-proof.

Fall Safety Tips

Out of 37, 991 U.S. adults treated for fall injuries, 72% of the incidents occurred at home.

While you may not be able to control your balance, there are things you can do to lower your risk of taking a tumble. Give yourself peace of mind by decreasing these hazards throughout your home. 

Install Grab Rails

If you’re at risk of falling, install grab rails throughout your home. These safety devices can be used in an emergency or to help you balance throughout the day. 

The most important places to install grab rails are the shower, toilet, stairs, tight hallways, and unlit areas. Any place that gets wet and slippery should have a balancing rail nearby.

Handrails should be installed by professionals. The rails must be secure and tight against your wall. The rail should offer firm support, and you should be able to grip it tightly.

Clean the Clutter

A clean house is a happy house, right? Not only is it ideal for your mental health to tidy up, but removing the clutter lowers your risk of tripping and falling.

Check your home for loose odds and ends that create walking hazards. This includes small furniture like ottomans, end tables, and loose rugs. About 55% of falls are associated with carpets and rugs.

Walk throughout your home and search areas where you can eliminate clutter. A good test is to imagine walking through a room in the dark. If you don’t think you could safely navigate the room without light, remove unnecessary items.

Improve Your Lighting

The key to staying balanced on your feet is adequate lighting. Dimly lit rooms are hazardous for people of all ages, but especially for the elderly.

Replace your bulbs with brighter ones. LED lights are a top choice as they can produce over 3,500 lumens and are long-lasting. Have plenty of easy-to-access light switches installed throughout your home.

For a fall-proof home, the more lights the better. Install lights under cabinets, tables, and along your staircase. Use nightlights to illuminate dark closets and walkways.

Always Wear Sturdy Shoes

When walking through your home, wear practical footwear. Slippers and socks are cozy, but they don’t provide traction to prevent an accident. One research study found over half of the people who reported a fall in their home were wearing socks, slippers, or walking barefoot.

Get yourself a pair of sturdy slip-on shoes you can wear around the house or try a pair of non-slip socks to lower your risk of falling.

Avoid Loose Clothing

Minimize the amount of loose clothing you wear to decrease your risk of falling. This includes:

  • Scarves
  • Shawls
  • Long dresses and skirts
  • Shirts with puffy or extra-long sleeves

Loose clothing gets caught on furniture and throws you off balance, leading to a nasty fall. If you’re at risk of falling, be mindful of what you’re wearing to increase your safety.

Take Your Time

Above all, the most important way to lower your risk of falling is to take your time. With our busy lifestyles, it’s common to always be on the go. But too many people fall because they move too quickly from a sitting to a standing position or stumble while rushing around.

Take your time. Pause after lying down and give your body a chance to balance itself when you stand up. Walk slower down your hallways and stairs to ensure you stay on your feet. 

What Happens If You Fall

Falls can be minor, severe, or somewhere in between. They can cause broken bones, head injuries, and hip problems. Over 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling, and over 800,000 patients are hospitalized every year due to falls.

If you fall, the first thing to remember is to keep calm. Take a few deep breaths to get over the initial shock. Don’t rush to get up unless you are in immediate danger.

Determine if you can get up. If your injuries are severe, attempting to stand can make them worse.

If you are too injured to rise, call for help or lie in a comfortable position until someone arrives. Always have a cellphone nearby so you can call for assistance.

If you can move, roll onto your side and rest for a moment. Once you are ready, slowly rise to your knees. Crawl to a sturdy chair or the nearest grab rail. 

Use the rail or chair to lift yourself up. Move slowly to ensure you have your balance.

Once you are standing, sit in a chair and let your body rest. Drink water and take as much time as you need to recover. If you’re concerned about your injuries or you hit your head, follow up with a doctor.

It’s essential to seek help after a fall. If you’re suffering from a long term disability following a fall, there are people who can help get the medical coverage you need.

Keep Yourself Safe 

As we age, it’s essential to take care of our bodies. Toddlers may be able to fall and stand back up as if nothing happened, but those over 65 are not as agile. Following these fall safety tips in your home will keep you safe and minimize your risk of a dangerous accident.

Browse our other articles to stay in the loop on healthcare and aging news. We have expert advice on a variety of topics to help you live safely.