Did you know that every 11 seconds a senior is treated in the emergency room for an injury related to a slip or fall that occurred in the home? Your home should feel like a secure, comfortable place, not one with dangers lurking around every corner. This can be dangerous no matter what, but for seniors who want to age in place, it can be downright treacherous. Fortunately, there are a lot of simple, effective ways to fall-proof your home.
Are you a senior who might be at risk for slipping or falling in your home? Here are 10 tips to help you move around more safely — today, tomorrow, and for years to come.
Exercise to Improve Balance
Yoga, strength training, Pilates, and water aerobics classes all have exercises that help improve balance. Many seniors have the option to take these classes for free with Medicare Advantage Silver Sneakers programs. Providers like Humana offer plans with these wellness benefits, opening the doors to about 13,000 participating fitness centers across the country.
Install Non-Slip Flooring
Certain rooms have an increased risk of falls over others, such as bathrooms and kitchens. This is no surprise considering how much moisture builds up in these areas. So, replace the floors with non-slip flooring or purchase non-slip mats to make walking safer in slick areas.
Use Brighter Lights
Dim lighting can prevent seniors from noticing trip hazards, such as when the corner of a carpet has turned up or if a piece of clothing is lying on the floor. Replace your light bulbs with one that gives you 800 lumens or more. Also, consider installing remote ways to turn on lights so you don’t have to cross a dark or dim room to get to a light source.
Improve Your Coordination
Working on your physical coordination can help you avoid trips and slips and even catch yourself if you start to fall. There are simple exercises you can do in your home — an excellent part of a healthy morning routine — to boost coordination, such as walking a line heel-to-toe, standing on one leg, and side leg raises.
Emphasize Bone Health
If your bones are frail and weak, even one seemingly innocuous fall could result in a major break or fracture. Seniors can prioritize bone health by taking yearly bone density tests, eat calcium-rich foods, quit smoking, and talk to their doctors about taking vitamin D supplements.
Take Stairs Out of the Equation
Stairs are one of the most common causes of home falls. If you are a senior who has to navigate steps to get in and out of your home, consider installing ramps to make traversing them easier. Steps inside the home are also a hazard, but you can install a chair lift to move up and down the stairs or move all essential upstairs rooms into downstairs spaces.
In rooms where seniors might have difficulty navigating, handrails can help you live more independently. Installing grab rails can help seniors move safely in and out of the tub, on and off the toilet, up stairs, through hallways, and around areas with dim light or excess moisture.
Falls are a leading cause of sudden health decline in seniors, which is why they should be taken seriously. A person over 65 who is in fine health could experience a domino effect of serious conditions after a fall. That’s why taking steps to make your home safer can reduce or even eliminate the threat — allowing you to live happier and healthier in your golden years.