Over 65? It's Time to Fall-Proof Your Home!

By Megan Minogue


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As you get older, you may find yourself faced with additional health concerns and challenges that you did not give a second thought a decade or two ago. For instance, those over 65 commonly suffer from conditions and diseases such as arthritis, cancer, osteoporosis, and diabetes, all of which can severely limit your mobility or simply make it more difficult to get around. If you’re currently suffering from any of these ailments or are becoming more worried about your steadiness on your feet, it may be time to fall-proof your home! Take one or all of these steps and you’ll feel safe and secure in no time!

Facts About Falls

Unfortunately, falls are quite common and can be quite serious, both in terms of injury and cost. Among those 65 and older, one in five falls causes a serious injury, and 95% of hip fractures are caused by falls. Even minor injuries caused by falls, such as twisting or spraining a joint, can lead to reduced mobility, and the fear of falling can be debilitating as well. Being less active, whether through reduced mobility after a fall or not doing certain activities due to fear of falling, can further exacerbate the problem as inactivity can cause your joints to weaken, and thus be more susceptible to injury should you fall. But there are some simple and practical adjustments you can make sure to ensure you are able to get around with no fear!

Safer Stairs

If you are truly worried about your mobility due to an illness or other condition, you may want to consider moving into a one-story home. Stairs can present a serious challenge to many seniors, and are the scene of many falls each year. If moving is not an option, make sure that your stairs are as safe as possible by installing a sturdy banister as well as a wall railing, giving you two options when reaching out to steady yourself. You may also want to invest in a motorized seat to bring you up and down the stairs, eliminating any need to walk up and down yourself!

Fall-Proofing Your Bathroom

A common site for falls is the bathroom. This is due to the often slippery nature of bathroom floors, especially after a shower or bath, in addition to the trouble many seniors have in getting into and out of the shower or tub. A great way to prevent falls in the bathroom is to install handles in the tub to help you get up from a bath without the risk of slipping on wet surfaces. You can also install a seat in your shower to help you stay steady and reduce the risk of falling while you wash. Also be sure to have several towels or rugs down when you get out so you don’t risk creating a slippery surface for you to fall on!

Another good idea worth investing in is a medical alert system. Such systems will feature a special pendant with fall detection technology that will immediately alert a call center and emergency services should you fall. These pendants are also waterproof, so wearers can still have them on in the shower or bath where, as we’ve discussed, many falls unfortunately occur.

Taking Precautions Outside

Some final tips for safety proofing your home involve making sure your home is safe outside, as well as inside! One quick fix you can make is to install bars on either side of your door to help you get in over the threshold of your home. You should also be sure to have a sturdy railing on the steps leading up to your house, and be sure to have the integrity of your stairs checked to ensure there are no loose plants or crumbling bricks or stones you could trip on.

When there’s inclement weather, be sure to correctly treat outside surfaces – for instance, putting down salt when there’s snow or ice – and consider hiring a professional or neighborhood kid to clear your driveway and sidewalk if there is significant snowfall. If you do go outside in the rain or snow, be sure to wear proper attire such as padded snow pants and boots with strong grips, to reduce the impact should you fall or to prevent you from falling altogether!

Hopefully these tips will help you conquer your fear of falling and help you make your home a safer, fall-proofed place to live! Keep on moving!

 

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