Preventing Falls: Home Safety

Stairs Last week we posted about bathroom safety to prevent senior falls. Most senior falls occur in the home, and most of them happen in the bathroom, so taking a look at the safety of that room first is important. This week, we’re looking at safety tips for around the rest of the home to prevent senior falls.

The majority of hospitalisations for otherwise healthy seniors are caused by falls, which we believe are a preventable hazard. Many senior adults want to live in their home and maintain their independence in old age, and we know that with some simple home improvements, this is possible for most people.

  • Lighting: When visiting the home of your senior loved one, take a look at the lighting. Changing bulbs can be too difficult, so maybe some have gone out and need changed. Some hallways and rooms may simply not have adequate lighting, so are a particular hazard as falls are more likely to happen in the evening when the body is tired.
  • Tripping Hazards: Wires, cords, rugs, faulty flooring, and general clutter can all create tripping hazards. Look around the house for items that need to be fixed, taped down, or removed altogether.
  • High Reaches: Are books on high shelves? Kitchen cabinets packed to the ceiling? Attempting to reach items that are just slightly too high can cause falls, and potentially dangerous ones involving furniture. This may require some reorganisation or even new furniture.
  • Handrails: Are there bannisters and handrails where needed? As mobility decreases, having holds around the house can be a great help, and it’s important that whatever they grab to stabilise themselves is stable and built for that purpose. Consider handrails throughout the house, if possible.
  • Winter: If your senior loved one does not live in an apartment building, they may not have anyone to help keep the driveway/sidewalk up to their front door clear of ice and snow. If you do not live nearby, is there a neighbour that can help?
  • Emergencies: If a fall does occur, will your senior loved one be able to contact help? Is there someone who calls in regularly? There are many devices on the market now that go far beyond a string in the shower to call for help, including easy-to-use wearables.