Beyond Superstition: Preventing Accidents In and Around the Home

Posted by Meghan Orner on January 13, 2017

Beyond Superstition: Preventing Accidents In and Around the Home

Friday the 13th can be an ominous day for those who are superstitious. While the exact origins of Friday the 13th are unknown, historians believe that it dates back to the Middle Ages and that it’s rooted in Biblical stories. Whether or not you believe in the superstitions of Friday the 13th, there are still real dangers that can be lurking in and around your home.

If your physician, family members or friends have discussed the importance of safety and accident prevention with you, they’re not just being superstitious. Due to the prevalence of fall risk myths, it can be easy to think that you will never experience an accident, but the reality is that more than one in four adults over the age of 65 fall every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That’s why it’s essential that you identify all of the hazards in and around your home that can be a potential fall risk and create an accident prevention plan to maintain your safety at home as you age.

Clutter

Most falls occur from tripping over something, like area rugs, electrical cords, shoes, plants, books, magazines, trash or anything else on the floor. If you spend most of your time indoors, it can be very easy for clutter to gradually build up in each room until walking paths are completely obstructed.

Accident Prevention Plan:

When it comes to fall prevention, one of the simplest things you can do is rid your home of clutter. Not only will it create a much safer environment, but streamlining and rearranging furniture will also make moving around in your home much easier, especially if you use a cane or walker.

Should you notice any uneven floors or loose carpeting while you're removing clutter, ask a family member or hire a professional to repair it immediately.

Stairs

If you suffer from limited mobility, navigating stairs in and around your home can be extremely difficult and even dangerous, especially if the staircases have loose carpeting, unstable handrails and slippery steps.

Accident Prevention Plan:

To give yourself extra support and traction, add sturdy handrails on both sides of the staircase and nonslip treads onto every step. If the stairs in your home are carpeted, inspect each step to ensure that the carpet is firmly attached. You can also place small lights along the steps to help illuminate the stairs so that you can better navigate them in the dark.

Don’t forget about any steps outside of your home, as well! Check to be sure that the handrails are in good condition and that they aren’t weathered or rusted.

Slippery Floors

It might not surprise you to learn that the bathroom is one of the most dangerous rooms in the home for seniors. In fact, it's where close to 200,000 accidents occur every year.

But the bathroom isn’t the only place where slippery floors threaten your safety, however. The kitchen and the area around main entrances can also be hotspots for falls.

Accident Prevention Plan:

If you have trouble getting in and out of the shower on your own, grab bars, non-slip mats, a shower chair or a tub bench are all affordable fall prevention tools that will make this transition easier. A raised toilet seat is another essential tool designed to help you sit down and stand up safely.  

To promote safety and accident prevention in the rest of your home, clean up any spills that occur right away so you don’t forget about them. In addition to placing non-slip mats in the bathroom, you should also add them to the kitchen and near main entrances to have traction on smooth or wet flooring.

Improper Lighting

Poor lighting is one of the leading causes of in-home falls, particularly among those who suffer from vision problems. This is especially dangerous during the wintertime, when the shorter days give less natural sunlight.

Accident Prevention Plan:

Improve your home’s lighting by opening the curtains, increasing the number of lamps and installing overhead lights on each staircase. Even something as simple as adding nightlights to each room and hallway, or replacing old bulbs with newer, brighter ones, can go a long way in ensuring your safety, especially during the early morning and late night hours when natural light is limited.

Medical Alert Systems Risk Assessment

Other Essential Fall Prevention Tips

In addition to creating an accident prevention plan, you should also consider the following fall prevention tips that will promote your safety in and around the home:

  • Exercise. Not only is regular physical activity a key step in fall prevention, but it will also help improve your balance and mobility as you age. If starting a new exercise routine seems daunting, don’t worry -- these exercises are perfect for beginners.
  • Review medications with your doctor. Whether they’re prescription or over-the-counter, many medications list dizziness or sleepiness as side effects, increasing your risk of falling. Talk to your doctor about alternative medications that promote both your health and safety.
  • Have your hearing regularly checked. While you’re visiting with your doctor, you should also request a hearing screening. Although hearing loss is not typically thought of as a safety hazard, a recent study found that it actually triples your risk of falling.   
  • Stay up-to-date on your eye prescriptions. The importance of annual eye exams for seniors cannot be underestimated. Updating your eye prescriptions when needed will help you notice possible safety hazards in and around your home, but it’s just as important that your doctor checks for eye diseases that damage your vision, like glaucoma.
  • Ensure your safety with a medical alert system. Accidents happen all the time, even in your own home. In fact, the National Institutes of Health states that every six out of ten falls happen at home. That’s why it’s essential that you be proactive and invest in a direct line to help with Medical Guardian’s medical monitoring services. Whether you experience a fall, medical emergency, house fire or power outage, you can rest assured that our monitoring center will send you the help you need right away.
  • Although it can be easy to overlook the importance of safety and accident prevention, taking these simple steps will go a long way in ensuring your ability to safely age in place for many more years to come -- even when Friday the 13th comes around.


    TAGS: fall prevention accident prevention plan