Fall prevention is often an afterthought. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)reports that falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injury and hip fractures among seniors 65 and over. In fact, 20% of falls among seniors result in a head injury or broken bone. In the United States, over 800,000 people are hospitalized due to a fall.
Many seniors do not report falls to their loved ones or doctor. There are many problems with under reporting a fall. The major problem is not receiving the proper medical attention and help for fall prevention. The second problem is fear of repeat falls which causes seniors to cut back on activities. Reduced activity leads to weakness and possibly more falls. The chance of repeat falls doubles each time you experience a fall.
The causes of falls vary. There are biological causes of falls such as weak muscles, vision changes, or loss of sensation that often occurs with Diabetic complications. There are behavioral types of falls from alcohol use or medication side effects. And there are environmental causes of falls. While your chances of falling increases with more risk factors, this page focuses on the environmental causes of falls specific to your home. You’ll also learn how home modification or aging-in-place can help with fall prevention.
Environmental Causes of Falls
An unsafe home environment is a common cause of falls. Some home safety concerns that lead to falls include:
Pets and their toys
Slippery bathtubs and showers
Unlocked wheel chairs
Buckling concrete or outdoor walkways
Snow or ice
Home Modifications for Fall Prevention
There are many home modifications you can make to prevent falls. Often known as aging-in-place, here are some common home modifications you can make to reduce your risk of falling.
Eliminate all tripping hazards and keep your path clear. Remove throw rugs. Tack down carpeting. Use slip resistant rugs. Consider low-density pile carpeting or none at all. Confine animals and their toys to areas with less risk of you falling, especially at night. Avoid extension cords that cross into your walking pathway.
Safety-Proof Stairs. Install and fix handrails. Consider a chair lift if you have limited mobility. For the outside, install slip-resistant stairs and ramps.
Install accessible doorways for wheelchairs.
Install a lot of bright lighting throughout your home.
Keep outdoor concrete areas such as driveways, porches, and walkways in good repair and clear of snow and ice.
Use assisted devices such as a cane or wheelchair. Lock your wheelchair during transfers.
Avoid overreaching or using a ladder, especially if you have limited mobility, or balance or eyesight problems.
In your bathroom, install slip resistant strips in your bath or shower. Consider a walk-in shower or bathtub. Install grab bars in your shower, bath, and toilet areas, and install raised toilet seats.
Falls are serious problems for seniors. Many falls occur in homes. Following these simple home modification tips can help with fall prevention and keep you independent longer.
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