According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of every five falls results in a serious injury, such as a bone fracture or head injury. We’re all susceptible to falls, but older adults in particular need to take special care. This is because as we age, mobility, strength, and sensory faculties can change. Help your parent or grandparent stay safe at home with the fall prevention tips below. You’ll be just in time for Fall Prevention Awareness Week, which coincides with the first week of fall (September 22-28).
Lessen Risks Around the HomeThere’s no better place to start applying fall prevention tips than around the house. Reports show that more than 75% of accident-related injuries occur in the home. Take a look around your parent’s home, identify fall risks, and make changes to reduce them. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Clear pathways of electrical cords, furniture, and other clutter.
- Put regularly used items within easy reach, i.e. at waist or counter level.
- Put night lights in bathrooms and on stairs.
- Secure floor coverings with non-slip pads.
- Install hand rails, grab bars, and tub mats in the bathroom.
Make Self-Care a PriorityFall safety requires more than just minimizing external risks. Monitoring one’s health and practicing good self-care will help lessen physical vulnerabilities that can increase the chance of fall. Help your parent to do the following:
- Make regular appointments to check hearing and vision and wear comfortable hearing aids and eyeglasses with an adequate prescription.
- Properly take medications (for tips, read our Medication Management page).
- Exercise safely and moderately—mobilizing joints increases overall body function, lessening the risk of falls.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet and drink plenty of water, especially in the summer when seniors are at risk for heat-related illness.
Ask for HelpFor some older adults, accepting help and their changing needs can present an emotional challenge. Support your parent in getting all the help he or she needs by encouraging him or her to see how it will actually enable greater freedom. Help can come in many different forms:
- Assistive devices, such as a cane or walker
- Sturdy, orthopedic shoes
- A medical alert device
- An in-home [caregiver]