Six out of every ten falls happen at home, where we tend to move around without consciously thinking about our safety. Sore muscles, broken bones, and painful bruises can be avoided by following these tips from the National Institute of Health:
- Remove anything that could cause you to trip or slip while walking. Tripping on clutter, small furniture, pet bowls, and electrical or phone cords can cause you to fall.
- Arrange furniture to give you plenty of room to walk freely. Also remove items from stairs, hallways, and pathways.
- Be sure that carpets are secured to the floor and stairs. Remove throw rugs, use non-slip rugs, or attach rugs to the floor with double-sided tape.
- Put non-slip strips or mat on floor, steps, and in your shower or bathtub.
- Avoid wet floors and clean up spills right away. If you have waxed floors, use only non-skid wax.
- Poor lighting – inside and outdoors – can increase your risk of falls. Make sure you have enough lighting in each room, at entrances, and on outdoor walkways. Use light bulbs that have the highest wattage recommended for the fixture.
- Good lighting on stairways is especially important. Light switches at both the top and bottom of stairs can help.
- Place a lamp within easy reach of your bed. Put night lights in the bathroom, hallways, bedroom, and kitchen. Also keep a flashlight by your bed in case the power is out and you need to get up.
- Have handrails installed on both sides of stairs and walkways. If you must carry something while walking up or down stairs, hold the item in one hand and use the handrail with the other. When you’re carrying something, be sure you can see where you are stepping.
- Properly placed grab bars in your tub and shower, and next to the toilet, can help you avoid falls, too. Have grab bars securely installed by a handyman, and use them every time you get in and out of the tub or shower.
- You might find it helpful to rearrange often-used items in your home to make them more accessible. Store everyday items within easy reach.
- Avoid using a stool or chair to reach something. Instead choose a safe stepladder or ask for help.
- Be careful when walking outdoors, and avoid going out alone on ice or snow. A simple slip on a slick sidewalk, a curb, or icy stairs could result in a serious injury.
- During the winter, ask someone to spread sand or salt on icy surfaces. Be sure to wear boots with good traction if you must go out when it snows.
As we age, we need to consider all the tips listed above. Use the list as a check off to go through your home being proactive in making improvements to your everyday environment.
By Pat Hoogervorst, R.N., Clinical Services Director, Valley VNA Senior Care
Pat oversees the clinical quality and operations of the Assisted Living. Her history with Valley VNA, along with her clinical expertise, is a wonderful resource for residents and families. Pat works closely with the Wisconsin Assisted Living Association and their program the Diamond Accreditation process and the Three Pillars of Care. The program criteria are designed to be a standard for excellence in assisted living organizations seeking the highest levels of customer-driven quality performance.