Top tips for fall-proofing your home
A fall at home can completely change the quality of life for an elderly person and can signal the beginning of a downward spiral where he or she eventually loses the independence they have always valued.
A survey commissioned by Age UK has found that 4.3 million (36%) people are worried about falling over, but by taking these steps to ‘fall-proof’ your home and by keeping an eye out for potential hazards, your home can be a safer place:
Having adequate lighting is one of the simplest ways to avoid falls, especially on stairways, entrances and outdoor paths. Eyesight diminishes with age so it’s important to make sure the living space has ample light to help an elderly person avoid any obstacles in their path.
This is where most falls occur, so installing grab bars on the wall near the toilet and along the bath or shower is important, as is having a non-slip mat next to the bath or shower. Consider installing a raised toilet seat or one with armrests to maintain balance while getting on or off the toilet.
Stairs and floors should be kept clutter free and trip hazards such as small furniture, handbags, pet bowls, electrical and phone cables should be removed.
Arrange all furniture to allow plenty of room to walk freely. A raised mattress will help with getting in and out of bed easily and living room furniture should also be firm, high and with armrests to assist in standing.
Ensure carpets are well fitted and not wrinkled. Avoid waxed or slippery floors and use non-slip rugs, or attach rugs to the floor with double-sided tape.
Make sure any liquid, grease or food spilled on the floor is cleaned up to avoid slipping, and that all food, dishes and cooking equipment are easy to access. Use a step stool with a handrail to reach upper cabinets but if in any doubt, don’t take risks – ask a friend, neighbour or carer to help.
Stairs are one of the most risky places in the home for elderly people. Handrails can be used to avoid carrying items up and down the stairs with both hands, thus maintaining balance.
This is one of the most dangerous times for falls at home, as people are often groggy, making it easier to lose their balance. Adequate lighting in the bedroom, bathroom, hallway and kitchen is essential. Keep a torch to hand, especially near the bed. A cordless or mobile phone is also a good idea, so there is no danger of rushing around the house to answer a call.
Good health and exercise
Preventative health is important and balance exercises and lower-body strength can help prevent falls. Following a healthy diet can also improve balance, co-ordination and general health.
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