Falls are one of the biggest risks in an older adult’s life. Falls are the leading cause of death resulting from injury and the most common cause of hospital admissions for trauma in seniors. Falls can cause broken bones, which can lead to surgery, hospital stays, long recoveries, and emotional consequences like depression.
The best way to fight these negative consequences of falls is to prevent them in the first place. This checklist will help you keep someone you love from falling. Using it as a guide, do a walkthrough of your loved one’s home to address hazards and reduce the risk of falls.
⇨ Living room ‐ Are there electrical cords that run across the floor? These are trip hazards. Rearrange lights and electronics. Is there clutter that might cause falls, such as piles of magazines or a low‐lying coffee table? Are there throw rugs? Move them out of high traffic areas or secure them with non‐slip backing. Is there a clear path through the room? Paths should be wide, straight and clear. Is the lighting dim? Lighting should be bright.
⇨ Kitchen ‐ Are frequently‐used items on high shelves? Rearrange them. Does your loved one use a step-stool? Make sure it’s sturdy, has a handle, and doesn’t have more than two steps. Encourage your loved one to ask for help with tasks like changing light bulbs and retrieving things from high shelves rather than using the step-stool, whenever possible.
⇨ Stairs ‐ Stairs are often dim. Make sure your loved one’s are well‐lit. Check for shadows that may cause visual confusion. Does your loved one have just one handrail on the staircase? Two are optimal. Are the stairs bare? Carpeted stairs are preferable because they aren’t slippery. Install carpet or non‐slip rubber treads on each step.
⇨ Bedroom ‐ Lighting is the main concern here. Make sure there’s a light within easy arm’s reach of the bed, and night lights that illuminate the path from the bed to the bathroom.
⇨ Bathroom ‐ Are there grab bars? Grab bars are essential for preventing falls. Install them in a place that can help your loved one get in and out of the shower or tub, as well as next to the toilet. Is the shower floor slippery? Make sure to use a non‐slip mat inside it. There are also special chairs and shower stools that allow your loved one to sit in the shower instead of stand, reducing falls. Does your loved one have to climb over the tub walls to use it or the shower? Consider installing a transfer bench, which allows them to get in by sitting down outside the tub, then sliding over safely.
Slips and falls among older adults are a big concern. If the worry is weighing heavily on your mind, take this checklist to your loved one’s house and make sure you’ve done everything you can to prevent dangerous slips and falls.