One in three adults age 65 and older will fall every year. Some will sustain moderate to severe injuries. Seniors who are 75 and older who do fall “…are five times more likely than those age 65 to 74 to be admitted to a long-term care facility,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention online article posted under the title Falls Among Older Adults: An Overview

We often link a senior’s fall to medical conditions, diminished physical strength and reduced vision. However, we sometimes forget the environmental factors that may increase their fall risks.

Often, we mistakenly assume that because seniors “know” their home environment they are less likely to fall. On the contrary, the living environment is where falls occur most frequently.

The following are just a few tips to help control the home environment and minimize fall risks:

  1. Clear clutter from walking paths inside the home to prevent trips and debilitating falls.
  2. Are the grandkids visiting? Have them pick up their toys and shoes from walk-through areas grandparents often use. However, not only can some youngsters be messy but also many adults. Remind them to pick up shoes, purses and backpacks left around the home.
  3. If there are throw rugs, remove these from paths.
  4. Watch out for long extension cords; place these away from heavily transited walk areas and paths.
  5. Use a walker, cane or a wheelchair to test-fit the environment; go through hallways, often used paths, living areas, including bedrooms and bathrooms. Does anything snag or block your path?
  6. Excess furniture often gets in the way, and if the excess is not needed store it.
  7. Lower top kitchen cabinets in order to give grandparents an easier reach.
  8. Install safety bars in all bathrooms; using flimsy towel bars for support is dangerous.
  9. Add non-slip mats in the shower and tub areas.
  10. Make sure hallways, and paths are well lit. Install lights with sensors that automatically come on when it becomes darker.
  11. Add threshold ramps, if needed.
  12. Make sure the outside paths alongside the garden area are free of fallen branches and excess leaves.
  13. Clear clutter from the landing area near access and exit doors; move decorative stands and plants away from doors. Can someone trip on the 'Welcome' mat?
  14. If you know that a senior family member is a fall risk, do not leave them alone!

Falls will happen, but if we invest at minimizing the risks, we can help prevent the more damaging and costlier long-term effects from a fall.

Senior Helpers understands the long-term risk effects of a fall. We encourage all families to help minimize fall risks inside and outside their home.

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