As our loved ones age, they are at an increased risk for falls.
According to the CDC, each year 2.5 million seniors are treated in the ER for injuries related to falls.
Luckily there are several measures that can be taken to reduce Mom or Dad’s fall risk so that they can continue to safely age in place. Here are a few fall prevention tips:
1- Focus on Healthy Living
- Make sure your loved one is getting enough to eat and drink every day. Low blood sugar, malnutrition, and dehydration can all lead to weakness, unsteadiness, and even episodes of passing out.
- Engage in an exercise program. There are many different exercises that your loved one can do to improve balance and coordination and maintain a healthy physique. Speak to Mom or Dad’s doctor about getting a referral for Physical Therapy if you aren’t sure where to begin.
- Have Mom or Dad bring a list of all medications to every doctor appointment. This will help the doctor to anticipate any potential side effects or interactions among medications that could cause dizziness or unsteadiness, and potentially lead to a fall.
2- Check Environmental Barriers
- Remove tripping hazards. This might include removing clutter, throw rugs, or electrical cords from areas where your loved one moves about.
- Place frequently used items within reach. If Mom has cereal for breakfast every morning, there's no need to store the cereal on the top corner shelf in the kitchen where she has to stand on her tippy toes to retrieve it! Store frequently used items within reach, perhaps right out on the counter or at least below shoulder height but above the waist.
- Install grab bars and handrails where needed. Consider installing handrails on all stairs. Grab bars might be helpful by any step ups, in the shower, and next to the toilet. See our post on “what’s the deal with grab bars” for more info.
3- Use Safety Equipment
- If your loved one uses a cane or walker, make sure they are using it correctly and consistently. That means no ditching the walker just to take a few steps or while in the bathroom!
- Consider purchasing a shower chair. If your Mom or Dad has balance issues, they should certainly consider using a shower chair or tub bench during bathing. Remind them to dry off completely before stepping out of the tub to avoid slipping.
- Consider purchasing a bedside commode or handheld urinal. If your loved one gets up to use the bathroom frequently at night time, having a commode or handheld urinal by the bed will reduce tired and groggy trips to the bathroom in the dark.
4- Check the Lighting
- Make sure all areas of the home are well lit, and switches are easy to reach. This will help to reduce the risk of Dad tripping over something in the dark.
- Use frosted bulbs or lamp shades to help to reduce glare.
- Place nightlights in the bathroom or hallways. This will especially help if Mom gets up to use the bathroom at night. Nightlights are better than just switching on a light as it helps to avoid sudden changes in light which can impair one’s vision momentarily.
5- Have an Emergency Care Plan
- Ask yourself and your loved one: What would you do if you fell and couldn’t get up? Consider getting a medical alert button. This would be highly recommended if Mom or Dad lives alone.
- Have your loved one carry a portable phone at all times. Have a plan in place of who they should call, or in what situation to call 911, if there is ever an emergency.
- Consider hiring 24 hr supervision. If Mom or Dad is a high fall risk, this may be your best bet.
We hope that you found today’s post helpful in managing care for your Mom or Dad. Use some or all of these tips to reduce your loved one’s risk of falling so that they can continue to age safely in place!