How to Make Your Home Safer and Prevent Falling

As we age, our bones become more brittle and susceptible to sprains and fractures. Just one little fall can have a devastating impact on an elderly person, resulting in a reduced quality, chronic pain – even death. In fact, one in three seniors will experience a serious fall each year; half of those more than once, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, which also notes that falls are the number-one cause of injury-related hospitalizations among the senior population.

Perhaps the scariest statistic of all is the fact that more seniors are injured at home than any other location –the bathroom and stairs are where the majority of accidents occur.
Factors that can increase your risk of falling include the following:
(list courtesy of Health Canada)

  • Poor balance
  • Decreased muscle and bone strength
  • Reduced vision or hearing
  • Unsafe conditions in and around your home

Are you ready for some good news? You can take great comfort in knowing you can prevent falling. By taking some necessary precautions and adjustments to your abode, you’ll no longer be at a high risk in your home-sweet-home.
You can make your home safer and prevent falling by making simple changes to your bathroom, kitchen, living room, bedroom, stairs and kitchen.

A Safe Step tub can prevent falling and sliping in the bathroom.

Prevent Falling In Your Bathroom

With the combination of slippery wet surfaces and obstacles like the toilet, shower ledge and bathtub to easily trip over, it’s no wonder thousands of seniors are injured in bathroom-related accidents every year. Fortunately, there are numerous little things one can do to reduce their risk of taking a nasty spill.

Get Rid of Your Rug 

You know that bath mat sitting on your floor that you purchased to match your toilet seat cover and towels? Yes it’s functional and may even compliment your colour scheme, however, that harmless looking piece of material is an accident just waiting to happen. All you have to do is step on it the wrong way before you’re sent flying across the room and cause some serious bodily harm like a broken hip. If you absolutely must have one, option for a rug with a non-slip back – one that won’t ripple or bunch.

Wipe Up Spills

Even a small puddle of water can put you at high risk for a fall. Always mop up any water on your bathroom floor as soon as possible.

Have a Slip-Resistant Shower Mat

Ideally, your shower mat should be composed of suction material to ensure it won’t slip out from under you. If your bath mat has lost its suction power, discard it immediately. Any parts that aren’t sticking can allow water to build underneath, causing it to float out of place. To protect yourself, invest in a high-quality bath mat that will prevent a slipping accident. Note: Always remember to secure the mat back into place after cleaning your shower/tub.

Invest in a Walk-In Tub or Shower To Prevent Falling

Many seniors who once enjoyed taking a nice soak in the tub now are opting for showers out of fear that they may be one of the many people to suffer from fall-related injuries every year. As a solution, consider purchasing a walk-in bathtub or shower for your home. Many health experts recommend walk-in bathtubs and showers as a means to reduce the chance of bathroom- related injuries as they continue to be a growing concern for the senior population.

Prevent Falling - Reducing clutter in the living room is an easy way to reduce your risk of falling.
Lee Haywood Flickr

Prevent Falling In Your Living Room & Bedroom

Reduce Clutter

If there are any boxes, clothes, loose wires or cords on the floor, make sure they are removed immediately. When you’re in a hurry, it’s all-too-easy to overlook these items and take a nasty fall.

Proper Lighting is Key 

Inadequate lighting doesn’t just put your eyes at risk – it also prevents you from noticing any potential safety hazards spills or clutter. Always ensure that your bulbs are changed as soon as they burn out and consider adding a stronger wattage if you find your bedroom and living room to be more on the dimmer side.  You may even want to consider installing night lights throughout the house.

Purchase Slip Guards

If you have any area rugs in your bedroom or living room, make sure they are placed on slip guards. Many falls occur when a rug slips out from one’s feet.

Prevent falls in the kitchen.
Dr. Warner Flickr

Prevent Falling In Your Kitchen

Wipe up Spills 

While spills are common in the kitchen area, so are dangerous falls. As soon as you or anyone spills, make sure you mop it up as quickly as possible with a dry cloth.

Use a Stable Stepping Stool 

As we age, our bone density tends to shrink – for many, this means losing inches of one’s height. A stepping stool is a useful device to have on hand; especially in the kitchen area for those hard-to-reach cupboards. Before using a step stool, make sure it’s strong and stable. For additional safety support, consider purchasing a model with a safely rail attached.

Utilize Lower Cupboards 

It’s so easy to lose your balance, especially when reaching for a heavy object. Rather than risk taking a treacherous tumble in your kitchen while cooking, keep all heavy pots, pans and gadgets in the lower cupboards.

Prevent Falling Around Your Stairs

Next to your bathroom, the stairs are the most dangerous area in your home. While you don’t have to run and put your house on the market just because you stairs, there are ‘steps’ you can take to ensure you stay safe. The Public Health Agency of Canada lists the following four preventative measures:

  • Make sure your stairs are well lit.
  • Have solid handrails on both sides of the stairway.
  • Remove your reading glasses when you go up or down the stairs.
  • Never rush up or down the stairs. It’s a major cause of falls.

As you can see, there are many easy and affordable ways to free your home from potential falls. Don’t delay another day – procrastination can put your health and independence at great risk!

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About the Author:

MAYBETH WALLACE

Beth Wallace is a Safety Specialist for Canadian Safe Step Walk-In Tub Co. She visits homes to show seniors how they can keep their home is safe. Her goal is to make sure they have a better quality of life and to see that their wishes to stay in the home they love for the rest of their lives are granted. Follow Beth on Google+ and Twitter.