Quality Home Health Care

How to Prevent Fall Injuries in Seniors at Home

Most seniors suffer from fall-related injuries in their homes. It is for this reason why a fall-safe house needs to be designed for each home in whch there is an elderly person, to help prevent such injuries. Senior man recovering from a fall. Home safety for seniors in importantOne fact needs to remain clear, aging persons suffer broken hips and fractures from a simple fall because their bones are weak. Statistics show that, a third of all seniors suffer fall-related injuries, some of which can be life-threatening. All these can be prevented by making minor adjustments (senior safety measures) in the house to accommodate this delicate generation.

This checklist has outlined some of the major changes you can adopt to design a fall-safe house.

1. Safety in all rooms

Electric and phone cords, boxes, newspapers, and furniture should be cleared/moved to create ample space in traffic areas.

Household appliances, bed covers, and clothing, should be stored where the elderly person can reach with ease. Most elders fall trying to reach for items that are high up, and this can be prevented by making everything easily accessible to them. Hallways should also be clutter free.

2. Stairways

Whether the senior’s room is upstairs or not, make a point of ensuring stairways are equipped with handrails on both sides, and fastened securely.

Any carpets in the staircase should be removed or fastened to ensure they do not slip. In addition to this, mark each step with a brightly colored adhesive tape to improve visibility.

3. Floors

All floorboards need to be straight and even. Any carpets or rugs on the same should be removed if frayed, or fastened with tacks if they have to remain. You can alternatively use non-skid pads or floor wax to make it slip resistant.

4. The Safe Bathroom

Most of the fall accidents happen in the bathroom, and especially if it isn’t big enough. If the bathroom is too small, consider renovating it to make it spacious. The bathtub needs to be easy to get in and out, and an adjustable-height shower head installed in the bathroom. The soap dish needs to be fixed in an easy to reach area. In addition to this, consider installing reinforced grab bars inside the shower and near the toilet.

Since bathtubs tend to get slippery when wet, use non-slip bath mats in the tub and around the bathroom to prevent slipping over.

Ensure a bolted rod that is strong enough to hold a person’s weight holds shower curtains. An elderly person will try to cling to anything to stand up or in case of danger, which is the reason why you will need a bolted rod.

Consider replacing bathing bar soaps with a liquid soap dispenser. A bar soap may fall out of the tub, which could be dangerous especially if the elderly person attempts to retrieve it.

Since temperature sensitivity fades away as one gets older, consider setting safe water temperatures in the bathroom. The most recommended temperature for a senior is 120°F or below, as anything higher that that can be dangerous for his/her skin.

5. Safety in The Kitchen

Ensure all utensils are easy to reach especially those used frequently. If need be, have a sturdy step stool with a grab bar ready, in case one should need to use one in the kitchen.

Have lazy Susan’s trays installed inside kitchen cabinets. These trays make it very easy to pick a pot, pan or dish inside the enclosure as all one needs to do is spin the tray to access the item. This reduces strain from attempting to reach items that are inside the cabinet, or too high in the kitchen, which can toss one off stability.

6. Other additional safety measures for seniors in the kitchen are:

a. Consider replacing standard dials with large easy-to-read ones on the stove. The ON, and OFF, buttons needs to be visible clearly from afar.

b. Replace kitchen aprons and small towels with real potholders, and ensure they are easy to reach.

7. Entire Household Lighting

It is mandatory for bedrooms, hallways, and stairways to be installed with night-lights. Lights with motion sensors are the most recommended should one get up deep into the night.
Have light switches installed at the bottom, and top of the staircase for easy reach.

Consider having a telephone and a lamp placed near the bed for emergency purposes.

Uniform lighting is also required in all rooms as alternating brightness can blur a senior’s sight.

8. Within the house perimeter

Make sure paths and driveway do not have any potholes or uneven joints.

Ice, snow, and leaves should be removed from walkways and stairs very often.

Any staircase should have firm handrails installed on both sides.

The type of shoes that the senior has does play a significant role as well. Ensure he/she has thin non-slip and sturdy shoes to put on while in and outside the house.

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Take the Possibility of Falling Seriously

Falls are a Serious Risk for Seniors

Falls and trips are not just a moment of slapstick fun for senior citizens – they can cause fatal injuries.

aid and elderly woman sitting

Aide prevents a senior from falling

Every year, more than 1.3 million people will be forced to visit an emergency room because of an injury sustained in a fall, more than half a million will end up requiring a hospital stay for such injuries, and almost 20,000 people will die as a result of fall-related injuries. Those statistics don’t take into account the fact that each day more than 1,000 older people fall and break their hip, leading towards a loss of mobility and independence, leaving them at risk of medical complications and putting them in a position where they could die months later as an indirect result of their injury. Once someone has stumbled and fallen once, they are three times more likely to do the same thing again. Therefore, it is important that you work to reduce your parent’s risk of falling over.

Strategies For Preventing Falls

One of the most basic ways to reduce the risk of falling is to remove obstacles from around heavily trafficked parts of the house. This is a good start, but there are other things that you should also do, for example:

Medication: Is your parent taking any medication which may have dizziness listed as a potential side effect? If they are, ask them if they feel dizzy or drowsy within the first hour or so of taking that medication. If they are experiencing side effects, talk to their doctor about the possibility of taking the medication just before bed, or whether there are alternatives that have fewer side effects. If your parent is taking diuretics, try to schedule that medication so that it is not taken just before going to bed, because this will stop them from needing to get up in the middle of the night. Nighttime visits to the bathroom are a common cause of trips and falls in older people. Finally, ask your parent to avoid alcohol, especially if they are on medication because this can increase any feelings of dizziness. Another thing that you should talk to the doctor about is blood pressure. High and low blood pressure can both cause balance problems and increase the risk of falling.
Eyesight and Hearing. Age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma can all impair the eyesight of older people and increase their risk of falling, especially in areas with steps or obstacles. Poor eyesight can also impair balance. It is important that older people visit the optician regularly to have their eyesight monitored. Those who are visually impaired should check out the information provided by the National Federation for the Blind, which includes a list of organizations to help people across the country who are struggling with poor vision. Ear problems can also cause poor balance, so it is important that older people have their hearing tested regularly.

Walking, Strength and Fitness

Do your parents walk a lot? Are they wearing shoes that are suitable for walking in? Ill-fitting shoes, or shoes that have poor grips or high heels can increase the risk of a fall. Also, check that the pants that your parents are wearing are not too long, and a tripping hazard. If your parents wear slippers around the house, make sure that they have good grips and provide ample support. Finally, if your parents have balance issues or poor muscle tone, encourage them to use a walker or a cane to help steady themselves. People who are at risk of osteoporosis should be particularly pro-active about preventing falls. Older people who still have some mobility should stretch, engage in moderate intensity resistance training and light cardiovascular exercise both to reduce their risk of falling and to reduce the risk of injury if they do fall.

If your parent does suffer from a fall, talk to them about what happened, and what they think caused the fall. Explain that falls can be dangerous, and try to work out if they were tired, unwell, or had just taken some medication. If you can identify the cause of the incident then you can help them to ensure that it does not happen again.

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Tips to Keep Senior Citizens from Falling

The thought of falling can be scary for many elderly people that still live in their home.
They want to be safe while traveling to the kitchen, bedroom or bathroom, but don’t want to be monitored 24/7 or need an assisted living community. elderly woman with walkerIf falling worries you, there are some things you can do to ensure safety and help with fall prevention options. As a senior citizen, you need to be more careful and wear proper footwear at all times.

Doctor Appointment

The first step should be to talk with your doctor about potential falls and what to do about them. Your doctor can help you create a fall prevention plan, but you may need to answer some questions. They will probably ask you what medicines you’re taking, which can include OTC options, prescriptions, supplements, and vitamins. You can choose to make a list or bring the bottles with you to the appointment. This question is important because many medications have a side effect that could make it easier for you to fall.

They may also ask you about previous falls and will want to know details. You should mention where you were when you fell, what you were doing and what you were wearing. You may also be asked about times where you almost fell but didn’t.

Sometimes, health conditions can cause you to fall, such as ear and eye disorders. Therefore, the doctor may want to talk with you about any conditions you have or think you may have. He or she may run tests to ensure that you don’t have new illnesses that you were unaware of until now.

Exercise for Seniors

It may seem strange, but exercise can help prevent falls. Certain activities can be done, which helps strengthen the bones in the shins. Most people don’t think about the shins, but over time, those muscles don’t get used as much. This can cause you to “shuffle” your feet, which could cause you to fall.

Your doctor may recommend some exercises, such as Tai Chi, which is a gentle exercise routine that involves slower and more graceful movements that look like dance moves. Other options can include water aerobics for the senior citizen and walking.

Sometimes, building up those walking muscles can help prevent falls in the future, but even if it doesn’t, you still need to exercise and keep your body moving as much as possible.

If you need to refrain from exercise because it could cause you to fall, you need to talk with your doctor about creating a new program that allows you to exercise in a chair or a closely monitored place, such as a gym or a clinic.

Proper Shoes

The shoes you wear will have an impact on your feet and body. Wearing heels can make you feel as if you’re toppling over and could cause you to get off balance. Flip flops and floppy house slippers can also make you feel less balanced and could cause you to fall.

Shoes with slick soles, such as some tennis shoes, can make you stumble or slip, so you may need to get non-slip or non-skid shoes.

Some elderly people prefer to go barefoot or walk in socks, but this can be dangerous. Unless your bathroom and kitchen are carpeted, you may want to consider house slippers with a good tread or skid-resistant socks.

Remove Potential Hazards

Everyone’s home has some hazards that could lead to a fall, so you want to consider what those are and remove them if possible. Electrical and phone cords could cause a fall, so make sure they aren’t in a place you will walk through. Boxes and newspapers can also cause you to fall over them or slip on them.

Coffee tables, plant stands, and magazine racks should be in a place where you won’t need to talk, such as next to the couch or underneath a table. You may also want to remove extra rugs or make sure you tack them down, so they don’t have the potential to move when you step on them.

Anytime you have anything loose, you could fall, and this includes carpeting, floorboards and floor coverings. Make sure everything is secured to the floor or have it removed.

It may be best to use nonslip mats in the bathtub, and you may want to consider the ones that adhere to the bottom of the tub. You may also need to change your bathtub and use a walk-in tub or use a shower chair.

Adequate Lighting

Better light can help you see obstacles, so it’s best to turn on the lights before walking into a room. Even though you probably know your house like the back of your hand, you should be able to see everything first.

If bright lights bother your eyes, you can also consider using lamps within easy reach, night-lights in the hallways and bathroom or install a dimmer switch so you can choose the setting you need.

If you live in an area that regularly loses power, you will want to keep flashlights within easy reach, no matter where you are. Many hardware stores offer flashlights that can be plugged into the wall socket. You can use them as night lights, or just keep them charged for when you need them.

Safety Devices To Assist the Elderly

You may need to update the house a little and include hand rails for the stairways, non-slip treads for wooden steps and grab bars in the bathroom, such as by the toilet and in the shower.

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25 Ways to Prevent Falling

Fall Prevention

Prevent Falling

As we age, our coordination declines. But getting older doesn’t have to be as difficult and scary as some might believe. A little precaution can go a long way in adding enriching time to our Golden Years. Want to learn a few ways to prevent falling and hurting yourself?

  1. Be careful with your meds. Have your doctor carefully explain how to take them. Avoid any drugs with dizziness listed as a side effect, whenever possible. 
  2. If you take sleeping pills, take them only after you get in bed. Do not mix with alcohol. 
  3. Keep night lights plugged in for middle-of-the-night bathroom trips.
  4. Avoid standing on stools or chairs to hang up pictures or change light bulbs. Have an aid or family member help.
  5. If you have to stand on a stool or chair, first test its legs to see how sturdy it is. Be sure you plant it firmly on a level surface.
  6. Have safety guard rails installed in the shower and adjacent to the toilet.
  7. Affix no-slip grip bath mats to the floor of your shower and/or bath.
  8. Wear sensible walking shoes around your home with rubber non-slip souls.
  9. Make sure all rugs are sealed or tacked down to prevent movement while walking on them.
  10. Keep all walking paths clear of debris or clutter. Trim shrubbery.
  11. Always wait for washed floors to be completely dry before walking across them.
  12. Have an aid, family member, neighbor or friend sweep or shovel walkways to avoid slipping on wet leaves or ice in the winter.
  13. Use a cane or walker when traversing any unleveled or rugged terrain. 
  14. Use a cane or walker in public places with waxy, slippery floors.
  15. Take your time getting up from a seated position. 
  16. Be extra cautious after consuming alcoholic beverages.
  17. Go to regularly scheduled eye exams.
  18. Have your hearing checked. Deteriorating hearing can cause dizziness and poor equilibrium and balance.
  19. Get light exercise a few times a week. 
  20. Walk in safe neighborhoods and in malls with friends. Swimming is also an excellent way to stay active. An active lifestyle will strengthen muscles and bone density as well as improve mood.
  21. Avoid extremely hot temperatures.
  22. Be vigilant of your surroundings and learn how to lift and bend the proper way.
  23. Have a rubberized runner installed and firmly sealed on any stairs in your home.
  24. Mark the first and last step with a distinguishing color and any other raised or recessed surfaces in the home.
  25. Have all wires and cords in the home tacked down and cleared from walkways. 

If you or someone you love does not have the resources to practice and enforce the safety measures outlined above, enlisting the support of a health care aid may be the best way to put the safety measures in place. Once you do, the benefits to your health and longevity will increase and you’ll receive a jolt to your overall independence. 

 

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Assessing Mobiliy for Safety

 

Since one of the biggest threats to people 65 and older is a bad fall, mobility is a very important concern. Gait and balance, personal strength all are pivotal in walking (and pivoting). Safety is paramount as a fall can lead to a fracture, pain, hospitalization, rehab, complications and possibly, a life altering situation.

 

Assessing Mobility & Gait

Assessing Mobility & Gait

Assessing mobility is usually done by looking, watching and observing  the person walk, and thereby detecting any concerns about balance and gait. If problems are noted, then physical therapy, the addition of  a cane or walker can  help. Physical Therapy (usually covered by Medicare A at home or B as outpatient), can restore  functioning and thereby reduce  the chance of falling.

A trained professional, nurse, physical or occupational therapist will use  assessment tools like the Tinetti Balance and Gait Evaluation which can be done easily and doen’t take much time. The skilled evaluator is looking at how the person sits up, stands without using armrests, stands, walks straight for ten feet, turns around to return to the chair and is seated. Balance, pace, stability and being able to turn are all examined to see how they are performed.

These are the basics of evaluating a person’s mobility. A friend, spouse, son or daughter can do this. If you notice unsteadiness, staggering, wobbliness of knees, unsure steps, difficulty standing or sitting back down, then you should have the person evaluated by their doctor and then the appropriate care plan can be assigned.

Even if you have had Physical Therapy before,  a “tune-up” can be very useful. The dangers associated with falls are well known. A common injury resulting from a fall can be a hip fracture or broken wrist or shoulder. Boca Home Care can help you with our excellent PT department.

Prevention is the key here. Safety over vanity. Certainly if you or a parent has Parkinson’s Disease, MS, Hip or Knee Surgery or other medical condition which will effect balance and gait, consult with their doctor for a more specialized care plan. If you or they need a cane or walker, there are many types to choose from. Your PT can help you select and train the best type for you to use.

So, next time you see your elderly parents or aging loved one, go through the “steps” of a simple observatory evaluation with them.  Or just watch them as they sit down, get up, walk, bend, reach or get in or out of a car.  If they are resistant to help, deny the need, then speak to their doctor.

For more information on Fall Prevention: http://www.bocahomecareservices.com/resources-for-the-elderly/elderly-fall-prevention-safety-tips/

 

 

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