Each year, millions of Americans aged 65+ are injured in trip-and-fall accidents around the home. According to the CDC, one in four older adults experiences a serious fall every year, resulting in injuries like hip fractures, broken bones, and head injuries. Sadly, many elderly victims never fully recover after falling, and some lose their independence permanently as a result. As an informal caregiver, finding ways to make your senior loved one’s home more fall-proof should be a priority.
Why Are Senior Adults More Fall-Prone?
According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), accidental trips and falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for those aged 65+ every year.
In general, older adults are more fall-prone because of:
- Vision changes
- Weakened bones and muscles
- Certain medications that cause drowsiness
- Loss of balance, joint flexibility, and coordination
- Dementia or Alzheimer’s
- Chronic health conditions like heart disease, arthritis, or diabetes
A fear of falling also prevents many seniors from staying active, which can be a real game-changer when it comes to their health and wellbeing.
Fall-Prevention Tips for Family Caregivers
Thankfully, most falls that occur in the home are preventable. As a family caregiver, here’s how to keep your aging loved one safe:
Share your concerns
If you’ve noticed that your loved one lacks confidence while getting around, like grabbing onto objects for balance, sit down and share your concerns with them. Ask them if they are afraid of falling and why, and then provide reassurance that you’re there to help.
Inspect the home
Once you have their permission, walk around your senior loved one’s home and eliminate fall hazards like furniture, throw rugs, and electrical cords. If they own a dog or cat, make sure that any pet supplies are safely stored away from foot traffic areas.
Your home safety assessment should also cover:
- Lighting. Increase the lighting around the home, especially in the hallways and above any stairs. Also, be sure that the path from their bedroom to the bathroom is well illuminated in case they get up in the middle of the night.
- Bathroom. Home bathrooms are often dangerous environments for seniors. Keep those in your life safer by installing grab bars near the toilet and in the tub/shower. It’s also a good idea to install a walk-in shower equipped with a shower chair and hand-held wand. Place non-skid strips inside the tub and remove any loose throw rugs or footstool.
- Stairways. All steps and stairways should be well-lit with handrails on both sides and highlighted with fluorescent tape on the top and bottom steps.
Get their balance tested
Convince your senior to get their balance tested by a doctor or physical therapist. If they fail the test, the healthcare professional can identify potential causes, like medications or a chronic health condition. Based on the outcome of the balance assessment it might be time for your loved one to start using an assistive device like a cane or walker.
Schedule an eye exam
As the human eye ages its ability to detect trip hazards decreases. Schedule a comprehensive eye exam for your senior, as a new set of prescription lenses may be all that’s needed. If your loved one wears glasses with tint-changing lenses, they should wait until they’ve turned clear again after entering a building. Bifocal lenses can also be problematic when negotiating stairs.
Encourage them to exercise
If their mobility is otherwise good, encourage your senior to exercise regularly by doing low-impact workouts like walking, water aerobics, yoga, or indoor cycling. Participating in those activities for at least 150 minutes per week will strengthen their core muscles, improve balance, and boost self-confidence- all of which will help prevent falls!
How AmeriCare Plus Can Help
Looking after an aging loved one who’s prone to falling isn’t easy when you’re busy or live far away. At AmeriCare Plus, we’ve been keeping seniors safe and comfortable for over 26 years now. As a family-owned senior care business, we offer our clients care, compassion, and security in the comfort of their own homes. Spearheaded by Team Teal, our highly trained and compassionate professionals can deliver in-home services including hourly personal care, 24-hour live-in care, companion care, dementia care, respite care, and post-operative care.
With 10 convenient locations in Virginia, we pride ourselves on being one big family taking care of your family. To learn more about AmeriCare Plus now, or to schedule an initial consultation for a senior in our service area, please visit us today at www.americarepluspc.com.