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6 tips to prevent falls for seniors

Learn what steps you can take to help your aging loved ones stay safe from harm

“I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!”

We’re all familiar with that infamous Life Alert commercial, and the catchphrase’s use as comedy in popular culture over the years. However, the realities of falls for seniors are very serious—more than 1 out of 4 seniors falls each year, and falling once doubles your chances of falling again. [1]

It’s an important topic for families of aging loved ones to discuss. Understanding why your chances of falling increase as you age is a useful place to start.

Why do seniors fall? 

Some of the most common factors that lead to a fall as you age include:

  • Decrease in coordination, flexibility, and balance 
  • Worsening vision
  • Medications that cause dizziness, dehydration or adverse reactions with one another
  • Unsafe home environment, and
  • Chronic conditions that result in loss of function, inactivity, or pain. [2]

The good news is that most of these factors can be easily combated with some changes to your loved one’s environment and routine. Keep reading to learn our top 6 tips to prevent falls for seniors and keep them as safe as possible.

#1: Assess the home for tripping hazards

Perhaps one of the simplest and most effective ways to prevent falls for seniors is to ensure that their home environment is as safe as possible. 

We recommend doing a walk-through safety assessment of the home. Examine every room and hallway—taking special care to check for loose carpet, slippery decorative rugs, unstable furniture, and uneven floorboards.

Once you’ve identified any problem areas, make immediate plans to repair, remove, or replace those items to decrease your loved one’s risk of falling.

Read more:

Home modification for seniors, room by room 

#2: Use assistive devices

There are many assistive devices that can be installed in the home or used by your aging loved one to help them stay safe and prevent falls throughout their daily routine.

Consider buying or installing: 

  • Grab bars and handrails for stairways and in the bathroom
  • Non-slip mats for slick surfaces like in the kitchen, bathrooms, and porch 
  • Raised toilet seats and/or ones with armrests, and
  • Sturdy plastic seats for the shower or tub, plus a hand-held shower nozzle. 

#3: Check for proper lighting 

As you age, your eyesight naturally worsens, so improving lighting around the home is important when aiming to reduce fall hazards. 

It’s recommended that you:

  • Increase the number of lights throughout the home
  • Install brighter light bulbs in existing lights
  • Place night lights in bedrooms, bathrooms, and hallways
  • Ensure that lighting is readily available for getting up at night, and
  • Store flashlights in easily accessible places in case of power outages.

#4: Dress to impress (and stay safe)

Another tip to prevent falls for seniors that’s often overlooked is wearing the right attire.

It’s recommended that seniors wear clothes that aren’t too baggy and are properly hemmed to reduce the risk of catching clothing on furniture or tripping on the ground. 

It’s essential for seniors to wear supportive, sensible shoes. Make sure their shoes are non-skid, rubber-soled, and properly fitted. It’s also important to ensure they aren’t walking around in just socks (and no shoes) as this increases their risk of falling. 

#5: Avoid stairs

Stairs pose a significant falling hazard. If possible, it’s best for your elderly loved one to live on one level. 

If your loved one does live in a home with stairs, make sure to take these extra precautions:

  • Recommend that they limit the number of trips they take up and down the stairs
  • Install handrails on both sides of the stairway
  • Ensure there is adequate lighting at the top and bottom of the stairs, and
  • Make sure that they turn on the lights before going up or down the stairs.

#6: Stay as healthy as possible

Although some may think otherwise, keeping up with physical activity as a senior can actually lower your risk of falling.

Keeping your body healthy through activities like walking, water aerobics, or tai chi reduces the risks of falls by improving strength, balance, coordination and flexibility.

Read more: 

8 easy in-home exercise for seniors (no equipment needed!)

If your aging loved one is nervous to exercise over fears it will make a fall more likely to happen, we recommend that they talk to their doctor. Their doctor may recommend a carefully monitored exercise program or refer them to a physical therapist for guidance.

In conclusion

Falling and getting hurt is often one of the biggest fears a senior faces—and their families often echo their concerns. Luckily, most falls can actually be prevented if proper precautions are taken. Taking the time to assess your loved one’s home and make any necessary changes could make a bigger difference in preventing them from falling than you’ll ever know. 

We hope these tips to prevent falls for seniors provide you with the guidance you need to help keep your loved ones safe!

Considering in-home care for your aging loved one?

We’re dedicated to helping seniors continue to experience the richness of life, retain their individuality, and enjoy the freedom to be themselves in the comfort of their own home.

Our trained, compassionate caregivers can assist with a variety of needs including personal care, cooking and serving nutritious meals, transportation, and companionship.

To learn more, please request your Free Consultation today.

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Sources:

1: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

2: National Council on Aging (NCOA)

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