Falls are among the most dangerous accidents for individuals 65 and older. Furthermore, falls are the leading cause of death from injury for older adults, and more than two-thirds of people who fall once will do so again within six months. Learn more about the areas within the home you’re most likely to fall, simple steps to help lower your fall risk, and how to receive round-the-clock protection in-home and on-the-go.
The Most Common Places You’ll Fall in Home
1 in 4 older adults over the age of 65 will fall every year. The risk of falling increases in homes with stairs, especially if there is nothing in the home to assist with stairway use. To lower the risk of falling on the stairs in your home, ensure that the handrails are sturdy—or have handrails installed if they aren’t already in place. We also recommend installing stair lifts, so you don’t have to walk up and down the stairs. Another option is to consider living in a one-story home, as this eliminates the risk of falling by removing the need to move up and down stairs.
The bathroom is one of the most used rooms in the home, which may play a significant role in why more than 230,000 people get injured in the bathroom every year. Even if you don’t have stairs in your home, 13% of older adults fall in the bathroom. Keeping the bathroom clean, uncluttered, and floor dry lowers the risk of tripping or slipping. Take the time to install non-skid mats in the shower to prevent slipping, as well as grab bars in the shower or tub to make it easier to get in and out. Adhere any rugs to the floor with double-sided tape or remove rugs altogether from the area to prevent tripping.
Gardening is a great way to stay active, as it’s low impact and gives you the incentive to get outdoors. But if you don’t take the proper precautions, it can also create a fall risk, as the hot sun can make you feel disorientated. Reserve your gardening time for just after sunrise or before sunset, that way it’s cooler outside, and you’re not spending as much time under the direct sunlight. If you’re out during the day, make sure to wear a hat and sunglasses, apply sunscreen, and stay hydrated.
In homes without stairs, 31% of falls happen in the living room. This is due to a variety of different reasons including awkwardly placed furniture, unsecured cables or throw rugs. To lower your risk of falling, secure all cables behind furniture. If they run across the room, try placing them along the ceiling, or beneath the carpets so you cannot trip over them. Lighting is also essential—keeping a room well-lit reduces the chance that you might trip over something. Removing throw rugs entirely or replacing them with carpet tape is also a good idea. While the rugs may be aesthetically pleasing, they are not worth the danger. Finally, consider investing in smart lights and a voice-activated controller such as Amazon Echo or Google Home to control lights throughout the home so you do not have to worry about finding the light switch in the dark.
Driveways and Sidewalks Around the Home
Falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injury to older adults. Falls onto concrete or pavement are especially dangerous because they increase the risk of head injury. To make your sidewalks or driveway safer, consider installing motion-activated lights, so you never have to worry about walking in the dark. Keeping bushes and shrubs trimmed away from the walking path is also a good idea, as fewer obstructions mean a safer path. If your sidewalk is old or has settled over the years, think about having it professionally leveled to prevent injury. If you live in an area that frequently gets ice, snow or rain, consider having handrails installed to increase path safety.
30% of falls involving an older adult take place in the bedroom. This is possibly due to medication side effects that make it difficult to get out of bed, or simply because waking up in the morning can leave you feeling stiff, making it more difficult to move. Using a low bed decreases your chance of injury if you fall out of bed for whatever reason. You can also lower the risk by installing padded mats next to the bed. Side rail supports can make it easier to get out of bed and give you something to hold on to if you’re not feeling well or stable first thing in the morning.
Start with Simple Changes
A few quick fixes around the house can help lower the risk of falls, along with talking to your doctor about what you can do to improve your agility and mobility. Active older adults are less likely to fall than those who aren’t getting the same level of daily activity. You can’t entirely avoid falls, but you can lower the risk by making a few simple changes around your home.
Stay Protected with a Medical Alert Device
Feel more confident in and around your home knowing you can easily contact emergency or non-emergency assistance with the push of a button. Depending on your lifestyle, Medical Guardian offers services that make the most sense for your day-to-day needs, to ensure 24/7 safety and connectivity to loved ones.