By Toni Lynn Davis MHA, CNHA, FACHCA
Falls are the leading cause of injury among older adults. As the weather turns cold and the outdoors becomes slippery it is especially important to be mindful of protecting seniors from slips and falls. There are a greater number of falling hazards in one’s home. Here are some tips to protect against unintentional falls.
1. Recognize if the medications, both over the counter or prescribed, that your senior is taking may cause side affects that increase the risk of falls.
2. Seniors should continue to exercise indoors. Light resistance and weight training can help seniors retain muscle tone, strength and balance. Check with a doctor before beginning any new exercise program.
3. Seniors should wear sturdy shoes with traction, and little to no heel. Avoid walking in socks or hose around the house. Wear rubber soled slippers instead.
4. Make sure seniors have railings on all stairs and steps, and ensure that all pathways around the home are unobstructed.
5. Bathrooms can be dangerously slick environments. Install a safety bar in the shower. A tub seat in the shower also provides a place to sit if one should become dizzy. If a senior must step over the edge of a tub to shower or bath consider replacing the tub with a stall shower. Use non-slip bath mats on the floors.
6. Eliminate area rugs from the home and put lights on timers for rooms frequented in darker hours. Use night-lights in the hallways and bathroom.
7. Consider other assistance devices like handrails by the commode, walkers, or chair lifts.
8. If it is wet or icy outside seniors should stay indoors. If a senior must leave the house they should have assistance.
Most fractures in older adults are caused by falls and in 2011 nearly 22,900 older adults died from injuries sustained in a fall. Take precautions against unintentional falls if you are a senior, or if you care for a senior citizen. To learn more about falls and older adults visit the CDC.