Monday, July 21, 2008

How to Prevent In-Home Falls

Approximately half of all accidents happen at home. As people age, they often become unsteady as they walk or move around. Sometimes medications may cause weakness or dizziness, or these conditions may be due to illness or disease.

The elderly often have a fear of falling. Because their feet can become painful or numb and their joints stiff, they can easily lose their balance.

Falls are a serious health risk and can lead to further medical problems. The following steps can help reduce the risk of injury and help your loved one feel safer.

1. Review medications for possible side effects. Have a doctor or pharmacist examine medications for harmful interactions.

2. Have the doctor evaluate your loved one for leg strength and function. Check their heart rate and blood pressure.

3. Begin or continue an exercise program to build strength. Regular exercise improves balance and coordination. They will soon begin to feel better and more secure as they walk. Ask the doctor for the best exercise for your loved one.

There are a number of things you can do in the home to help prevent sudden falls.

1. Review their home environment for potential hazards.

+ Make sure all chairs in the home are sturdy. Remove those that are not.
+ Make sure all rooms and hallways are properly lighted.
+ Simplify traffic patterns.
+ Remove or secure all area rugs.
+ Clear pathways of furniture or other obstacles.
+ Remove possible hazards from floors and stairs.

2. Review use of walking aids and devices.

+ Make sure canes and walkers are non-skid and in good working order.
+ Wear non-skid shoes and slippers.
+ Don’t walk round in socks on bare floors. Beware of waxed floors.
+ Use stable objects for support when walking or standing up.

3. Many accidents occur in the bathroom. The following ideas can help prevent injury.

+ Use a nightlight in the bathroom and hallway.
+ Install and use grab bars in the bathroom and shower.
+ Use a bath chair or stool in the shower.
+ Use a hand-held hose to control water flow and for ease while bathing.
+ Use only two or three inches of water in the tub.
+ Use no-skid decals or a mat on the bottom of the tub or shower.
+ Use non-skid bathmats on the floor.
+ Install carpet in the bathroom or beware of puddles of water on the floor.
+ Install a raised toilet and handrails.

Depending on the age and health of your loved one, consider not leaving them alone in the house or while bathing. Although accidents can happen at any time, taking precautions will reduce the possibility of serious injury.

I hope the above lists will give you a few ideas to help your aging senior live a long and accident-free life.

If you have other ideas to add to the lists above, feel free to do so in the comments.

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