As a senior, it becomes more important than ever to think about falls. After working so hard in our younger years to retire comfortably we don’t want to end up with an injury. My wife works in a nursing home and rehabilitation facility. My wife has seen many falls that have changed peoples lives and, unfortunately, in most cases injuries only get worse.
Seniors are more susceptible to injury because of slowed reflexes, vision issues, medication side effects, and muscle weakness. Also, pride and stubbornness get in the way of changing things to make the senior’s life safer. Believe me, giving a bit to change your household is much better than waiting for someone to help you to the bathroom every time you need to go! These are some of my suggestions that will not only assure you a better quality of life but will also help to avoid some possible falls.
- Prevent falls by avoiding common dangers – The best way to stay safe is to keep an uncluttered home. Many items like small statues and lamp tables can be tripped over. To avoid these falls and bumps keep these items along outside walls. Also, keep them at least 2 feet from doorways. Keep steps clear indoors and out. Keep your yard, garage, and closets clear. Watch for sticks, rocks, and other debris that may be hidden in grass causing you to fall. Also, keep the grass mowed so it makes walking through the yard safer.
- Bathroom dangers – The bathroom is a highly dangerous area. It’s almost designed to fall in. Almost all bathroom falls can cause permanent damage and we need to think ahead. Shower falls, wet floor slips, slipping off the toilet, scale, bumping your head on the sink, even that darn laundry basket can be dangerous. Some simple and great options are putting in shower and bath guards. Not only do they save you from falling in the shower but putting one on the wall closest to the toilet can also help you stay steady. Some other great safety options are to put a non-slip adhesive on the shower floor. This easy inexpensive fix can literally help save your life! Walk-in showers are a great option and one of the best risk preventatives in dealing with shower slips.
- Mats and rugs cause falls – Mats and rugs cause many trips and falls. Area rugs look great but can easily get caught up on your feet, shoes, and slippers. If you do need to have an area rug choose a heavy one that is non-skid. The ends of the rug should be tapered so it cannot easily be tripped on. The best option is not to have the area rug. Welcome mats and mats you put in front of the sink can also cause trips. Using some simple double-sided tape to keep them in place will go a long way in keeping them from slipping and causing trips. Some specially made mats will actually hug the floor so it can’t be tripped on easily.
- Sensible foot ware – Some footwear like open-toed shoes or flip-flops will catch just about anything possible. Sometimes it’s a combination of things that will cause people and specifically seniors to fall. Flip flops will easily catch on stairs with the slightest of dizziness. This is why we need to keep you barefoot in the home or with a closed shoe.
- Using a cane – Using a cane, walking stick or Nordic walking stick is like giving you the third leg. Not that you might need one but it can help you in times where you may have vertigo or get up too quickly causing dizziness. Canes may even be stylish so getting one that suits your style will even look great!
- Medical side effects – Medications always have side effects and they don’t always affect us the same way. Most seniors are taking some sort of blood pressure medications. They often cause low blood pressure and dizziness. We don’t know when a spell will hit up and it could be while walking or mowing the lawn. Always be prepared and have 2 points of contact on something steady will keep you on your feet.
- Never be alone – The best advice I have for you is not to be alone. Seniors should always have a family member or friend with them. I have many senior friends and they all have horror stories of trips and falls. Some of them have even been trapped overnight in the garage or basement. This is why it’s so important to have someone with you just in case you are stuck. It’s much better to call out to a real person for help than to wait till someone notices you missing. The next option will help if you don’t have someone to stay with you.
- Have a cell phone or emergency alarm – All seniors that stay alone should have some sort of emergency system that calls easily alert help to any situation. If you cannot afford one of these systems then carry a cell phone with you at all times. Have to speed dials for every person or agency that you may need. If the need arises you should be able to quickly call for help.
- Live on one floor – Having multiple floors in your home gives you multiple ways to get hurt. Slips and falls down the steps may not only hurt you but may end your life. Either move everything you need on these other floors to the main living floor or consider downsizing.
- Don’t shovel snow – When the bad weather hits don’t be tempted to shovel the snow. Many heart attacks, strokes, falls, and broken hips happen while trying to make a path to the mailbox. It makes much more sense to either ask a neighbor or hire help to deal with the snow. If you can’t get help shoveling, invest in buying ice melt. It will cost you much less than the hospital will and will be less painful than a broken bone. Just go out more often to spread salt and do it in a safe manner.
As we get older we have to make changes that we really don’t want to, to stay safe. I know you like that rug or plant where it is but considers how different your life will be after a serious injury. Making some sensible changes in your home today will allow you to stay healthier longer while living in your home.