5 Risk Factors Associated with Falls in Seniors
Every year, two million adults over the age of 65 are treated in emergency rooms around the country for fall-related injuries. While a reduction in coordination, balance and even vision can increase the risk of falls, many falls are caused by easily preventable environmental factors. Let’s look at five of the leading causes of falls and ways to make your home safer by reducing these risk factors.
Loose or Sliding Rugs or Mats
Seniors may be more apt to trip and fall on rugs that slide or on throw carpets where the corners turn up. Make sure all mats lie flat on the ground. There are a number of ways to improve the safety of throw rugs.
- Remove any throw rugs that could prevent a fall hazard.
- Use non-slip backing on all throw rugs.
- Secure area rugs with carpet tacks or double-sided tape.
Make sure all power cords run along the wall to an outlet. You might even tape the cords so they stay against the wall. If you’re using fans as temperatures heat up, duct tape power cords to the floor if they must run across the middle of a room.
Wet surfaces, especially in the bathroom, can create a fall hazard for seniors. Place throw rugs with non-skid backings in front of the bathtub, bathroom sink and kitchen sink, which are areas most likely to get wet.
As April showers bring slippery floors and muddy shoes, place a rubber mat with non-skid backing in the entryway. Encourage seniors to take off their shoes, which may be slippery, when they first enter the home.
As we age, our eyes may not adapt as easily to the dark. Lights on motion sensors can help seniors from falling, while keeping electric bills low. Make sure entryways, hallways and staircases, especially, are well-lighted.
If you don’t want to upgrade to motion sensor lights, replace regular bulbs with energy-efficient LEDs and add dimmer switches. Keep lights on a low setting all night to improve visibility during trips to the bathroom or kitchen.
Light switches placed at both the top and bottom of stairs can help seniors if lights are not on motion sensors.
Consider lighting in the bedroom, too. If there is no easy way to turn on a light from bed, since seniors often awake before sunrise, place a lamp next to the bed or add a nightlight to the room.
Obviously, make sure furniture is not placed where it may be a fall hazard. If a senior you love continuously trips over the coffee table, even if it’s been in the same spot for the past 10 years, it’s time to move it. In general, seniors should not have to walk around furniture to get to a destination, since tripping over furniture is a leading cause of falls.
Additionally, make sure any furniture a senior may lean on for support is secure. Make sure bookcases and other top-heavy furniture pieces are anchored to the wall.
Re-vamp the Home for Spring
Spring is a time for renewal and cleaning. While you’re cleaning, take a few minutes to evaluate your home’s safety and make any necessary changes with these five risk factors for falls in mind.
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