Consider the following changes to reduce the risk of falls in a senior’s home:
- Improve the lighting in hallways, bedrooms, bathrooms, and areas near exits and entries. Where possible, increase outside lighting along entryways and garden paths.
- Add high-contrast safety tape to steps and entryways to provide greater visual contrast for people with reduced vision.
- Install grab bars in bathtub areas, shower stalls, and around the commode.
- Remove clutter, throw rugs, extension cords, and excess furnishings that may cause a senior and a family caregiver to trip, stumble, and fall.
- Repair or replace broken floor tiles, stretched or torn carpets, cracked steps, and broken or wobbly handrails.
- Clear plant debris and yard trash from outdoor pathways.
- If needed, consult with a reputable and licensed builder and contractor to assist with home improvements and modifications that meet the changing needs of older adults aging-in-place. *Always verify licenses, references, and business reviews before starting a project and hiring a contractor.
Health issues can also contribute to a fall. Is a senior loved one taking medications that may be causing dizziness and impacting walking ability and balance? Has a loved one fallen, and, if so, is the person afraid to participate in exercise activities and daily walks?
These health and lifestyle improvements may reduce a senior’s likelihood of sustaining a fall:
- Encourage loved one to keep up with required doctor’s appointments and physical examinations, along with periodic vision and hearing checkups. Request that a physician include a fall risk assessment at your loved one’s next appointment. If the person has balance issues, promptly communicate your concerns to a physician to determine possible underlying causes.
- Request that a physician review a loved one’s current list of medications, including over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs, for potential interactions and side effects, especially if the person has recently fallen or complains of dizziness. Even if the person has not fallen, having a physician evaluate current medications to identify potential risks and side effects can be beneficial.
- Help seniors to stay physically active by setting an example and joining them in group exercise activities at a local gym or on daily partner walks. Sedentary behavior and a lack of physical activity can negatively impact senior health. Prolonged physical inactivity reduces flexibility and muscle strength, increasing the risk of falls and injuries in older adults. Family caregivers can encourage seniors to participate in programs that include muscle-strengthening, balance, and flexibility exercises.
To promote adherence to exercise programs, enlist the assistance of a reliable family member or a licensed home health care provider who can provide companionship should a family caregiver be unable to join a senior on scheduled walks or exercise activities. Before starting an exercise program, always consult a physician. Likewise, if possible, seek guidance from a licensed occupational therapist who can identify environmental factors, limitations, and physical conditions that may contribute to a fall and injury.
We hope these fall prevention tips are helpful to you and your family. Should you need assistance in caring for a senior loved one, contact Senior Helpers Orlando. Call us at (407) 966-2854 or at (407) 628-4357. Senior Helpers Orlando provides home health care services and Alzheimer's care in the counties of Orange, Osceola, and Seminole.
Ana P. DeLane
Senior Helpers Orlando Team Member