A fall for a senior can be debilitating and immobilizing, leading to bone fractures, lacerations, bruising, and even worse life-threatening complications. According to the National Council on Aging, over 25% of adults over 65 will experience a fall, many in their own home.
The ability to “age in place” for an older adult is greatly increased when corrective fall prevention enhancements are made at home. Aging in place is the term used when an older adult remains in their home well into their Golden Years without having to move to an assisted living or nursing home facility. Don’t miss this room-by-room essential fall prevention checklist:
In the Bathroom
The bathroom is an especially tricky environment, often because of close tight spaces, potential for slipping on wet and slick surfaces, shower and bath ledges or steps, and the need to sit and stand with ease to use the commode. Fall prevention upgrades may include:
Installing grab bars beside the commode and in the bath or shower
Utilizing a raised toilet seat with side handles
Adding a waterproof shower stool for sitting as needed in the shower
Updating lighting for bright and clear visibility
Removing mats and rugs which are potential trip hazards
In the Hallways/Stairs
Commonly used pathways through hallways and up and down stairs are often the hardest to navigate because of narrowness and inclines. Try:
Updating lighting for accessible, bright and clear visibility
Placing reflective “guide tape” down at the start of stairs, entryways, and ramps
Removing large, unused furniture items like tables and chests
Installing grab bars and railings to support ascending and descending stairs
In the Living Area/Kitchen/Dining Room/Office
Spending much of your time in the busiest living areas watching TV, exercising, cooking, eating, playing games, and surfing the web means your want to try:
Safely bundling cords and plugs out of common walkways
Eliminating carpets and rugs with curled up corners which could be trip hazards
Removing clutter from the floor, i.e. dog toys and small objects
Moving or getting rid of large, unused furniture that prevents easy navigation of the room
Stowing mobility aids in easily accessible areas against walls, in a nearby closet, etc.
Improving lighting so turning on lamps and light fixtures is easy and bulbs are bright
In the Bedroom
Waking and going to bed may seem like simple enough tasks, but even the bedroom can do with some helpful fall prevention strategies like:
Incorporating aids which make getting out of bed, standing, and sitting easier, like a cane or supportive side table
Using handy devices like dressing aids to make getting dressed simpler and less imbalancing, i.e. shoe horns, button hooks, etc
Making lighting accessible to turn on and off
Clearing clutter and trip hazards like curled up rug corners and cords
Ensuring the path to the restroom especially is clear whether it’s attached to the bedroom or down the hall
In addition to fall prevention upgrades in the home, additional factors can decrease risk of falls in the home like getting your eyes checked, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong bone density and muscle flexibility with a balanced diet and health weight.
Older adults tend to have collected troves of items big and small over the years, so updating your living environment to prioritize fall prevention may involve eliminating some of that clutter by selling or donating gently used items. Not only will your physical health benefit, but you’ll escape the financial and emotional burden which comes with experiencing a fall as well.