10 Must-Know Fall Safety Tips for Elderly: How to Prevent Falls at Home
According to the National Council for Aging, nearly 60% of falls happen right in your own home. If you're over the age of 65, you know how important it is to take precautions and prevent falls in the home. From fall prevention strategies to exercises, we’ve rounded up some must-try fall safety tips for the elderly and caregivers.
Falls are a serious business; they can lead to broken bones, head injuries, and more. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to help minimize falls and stay safe at home. Think of this as your go-to guide to preventing falls.
1. Fall Prevention Exercises
Exercising is important for everyone, but especially for seniors. It can be done at home or in the gym and will help you stay healthy and active. Exercising also helps you maintain your balance, which is crucial when it comes to preventing falls and injuries.
Speak with your physician or physical therapist about which exercises are best for preventing falls. Whether it’s strength workouts, chair yoga, water aerobics, or simply walking more, staying agile and flexible is great for your reflexes and your balance. Falling when you’re older isn’t the same as falling when you’re young.
The younger you are, the more likely you are to catch yourself, regain your balance, or fall without injury. As people age, reflexes slow down and it can be harder to keep your balance and grab yourself to prevent a bad fall. Keep up with strength and balance exercises to keep yourself safe from falls.
2. Maintain Good Vision and Hearing
It's important to maintain good vision and hearing. If you need glasses, make sure they fit well and are comfortable. Wear them whenever appropriate, including while walking at home and especially if you need them to see at night.
You may not realize how important eyesight is for vision and balance. Depth perception is something that can throw you off and cause you to trip or step on something dangerous. You may reach for something and it’s farther than you think, for example.
If you have hearing problems, see an audiologist for help with getting a hearing aid that meets your needs. The better you can hear the more aware you are of noises and sounds that may startle you. It only takes a second to miss something jarring that causes you to fall.
Keep your eyes and ears open and clear to help you stay safe and prevent falls. Speak with your doctors or your caregivers if either your hearing or vision is worsening or becoming a problem at home.
3. Make Sure Your Home is Safe
One of the most important things you can do is to make sure your home is safe. If you have broken railings, burnt-out lightbulbs, or loose tiles, these are all household hazards that can cause falls.
Take the time and money to invest in repairing your home or making it safer. Falls are the leading cause of death for older adults.
Start by taking a contractor or family member through some places that are the most dangerous. Things like broken flooring or uneven surfaces are good places to start. Although they may be more expensive to fix, it’s a good investment for your safety.
Some other easy home repairs such as changing light fixtures or removing tripping hazards are less expensive to make. Think about your light switches, lamps, and dark rooms you may not access every day. If those need adjusting to help you see better, it’s worth it to avoid a dangerous fall.
4. Use Grab Bars in the Bathroom and Elsewhere
Grab bars are a good way to help prevent falls. Consider installing grab bars in the shower and bathroom sink for yourself or an elderly loved one. A grab bar is a permanent handle that allows you to hold onto it while stepping in and out of a tub or shower, for example.
These can be professionally installed to make sure they can hold your weight and won’t slip or fall off the wall when you need them. You can never have enough of these if you are older or have limited mobility. Consider adding multiple in the shower, near a sink, by the toilet, and anywhere you need to get up or down safely.
If you have trouble getting in and out of a certain chair, down the stairs, or even a long stretch of hallway, you can also install some there as a preventative measure. It’s always safer to have something to grab when you need it.
5. Avoid Steep Stairs or Make Stairways Safer
Steep stairs in a home can be very dangerous for elderly people. Not only is it hard to get up and down, but they may also cause more falls. To help make your home safer, consider moving all your essentials to the main floor.
If moving isn’t an option, create a main floor space to sleep, do laundry, and do anything else you need. If this isn’t feasible, a stair lift is another option. These can also be installed outside to help with exterior stairways to get into your home.
Keep railings safe and make sure they work properly as well. Have a contractor come and inspect all the railings inside and outside of your home. A broken railing can be very dangerous if it isn’t properly maintained.
6. Avoid Clutter and Trip Hazards at Home
You should also be mindful of clutter around your home. Clutter can cause you to trip and fall, so keep it organized or store items in a safe place. If you have carpeting or rugs, make sure they are firm and even so that they don't get caught in your feet while walking around the house.
A regular cleaning service or help from friends or family can help keep your home picked up and tidy. Clutter and things on the floor can be dangerous with limited mobility.
7. Keep Your Phone in Your Pocket
If you’re worried about falling, keep your cell phone charged and in your pocket whenever possible. This will help make sure that if an emergency happens, your phone is with you.
If a fall does happen, you’ll be able to call 9-1-1 or family to come and help. This is also great for keeping track of any symptoms you're experiencing. Right when something happens, you can track it in our free app to help manage any concerns or questions you have for your care team.
8. Manage Your Medication
If you regularly take medications, talk to your doctor about ways you can reduce the risk of falls. Some common medications that can cause falls include sleeping pills and antidepressants.
If any of these are a part of your daily routine and you're concerned about falling, speak with your doctor about how they might be affecting your balance or making it difficult for you to stay awake at night. They may be able to adjust the dosage or switch out one drug for another that doesn't have as much impact on balance or alertness.
9. Keep Up With Doctor Appointments
As an elderly person, it’s crucial to stay on top of your doctor appointments. Make sure your doctor knows about any vision, balance, or mobility problems.
The more you share, the more they can help you come up with a plan to stay safe. Track any concerning symptoms in our easy-to-use app to speak with your doctors about. Having them in the app will help you both with treatment options, care plans, and more.
10. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
As you age, your body becomes more susceptible to injuries. This is why it's important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and stay active so that you can avoid falls and other injuries. To help keep your body active and more agile, exercise regularly.
Maintain your weight and stick to a healthy diet. The more you can move around and the more in shape you are, the better your mobility will be. Speak with your health professionals about any healthy lifestyle changes you can make to help keep your weight, balance, and flexibility strong.
Learn More About Fall Safety Tips Today
As a senior or a senior caregiver, it’s important to incorporate some fall safety tips. Caring for a senior or if you are a senior who lives at home, making a few small changes can help make your home safer. From repairs to lifestyle changes, there are a few easy things you can incorporate to help make sure you prevent falls. If you are elderly, suffering from a traumatic brain injury, or are caring for someone who is, we have amazing resources and a free app to help. You can start tracking your symptoms, triggers, and concerns to speak with your doctor about. Click here to register, download the app, and learn more about the incredible access you'll have to information.