Housing Matters has always been about promoting independence. We talk about ways to safely and comfortably live independently in our homes throughout the course of our lives. One of the leading causes of losing ones independence is certainly falls. Oftentimes when an older adult falls it is the beginning of the end of living independently. What you may not realize is how prevalent falls are and the devastating effects of falls, both financially and personally. There are many steps that can be taken to prevent falls and fall related injuries.
Over one third of adults over the age of 65 will fall each year, resulting in 2.4 million injuries. The result of an initial fall will often be fear and trepidation of falling again, which frequently results in actions contributing to another fall. However, falling does not necessarily have to be an inevitable part of the aging process. I suggest a multi faceted approach to staying on your feet.
- Work with your health care professionals. Sometimes certain medications can cause light headedness, lack of balance, or other conditions that may raise the risk of falling. Remaining physically active can help tremendously to reduce the risk of falling. There are a number of programs designed to help prevent falls by increasing strength and balance in those at risk of falling. Occupational therapists are an important resource to proactively keep people living independently.
- Reduce clutter. Go through you home and look for things that might be a fall hazard. Getting a friend or family member to do this with you can give you a fresh perspective by pointing out things you might not notice. Look for trailing extension cords, loose throw rugs, frayed carpets, and things piled in the walkway. If your home is cluttered, these simple steps can make a huge difference in reducing the risk of a fall.
- Light up your life. All of us experience diminished eyesight as we age. Increasing the level of light in our homes, particularly in the kitchen and bath can help tremendously to see where we are going. Contrasting colors on the tops and edges of surfaces such as countertops and stairs can help us see where the edges of these surfaces are which can help prevent falls.
- Hold on to what matters. Make sure you have something to hold onto. Installing railings, grab bars, and hand holds throughout your home so that you always have something sturdy to hold onto will go a long way to prevent falls. I often have people tell me that they do not need any of these products yet. That is exactly the right time to have them installed. If you have them installed before you need them, they may prevent a fall. If you have them installed after you need them, it is usually because you have already fallen. If you need help installing railings, grab bars, or hand holds, please call us.
- Prevent injury. While our primary goal is to prevent falls, we cannot prevent them all. By installing fall protection flooring in your home, you can prevent injury if you do fall. This special flooring, called Smart Cells, will absorb 90% of the impact of a fall if you do fall on it. Available in mats or fitted to the entire floor, it is available in different colors, and can be covered with sheet vinyl or carpet.
For more information on fall prevention and protection, a home safety assessment, or help implementing these or other home modifications, please call Senior Remodeling Experts at 540-384-2064. Thank you for reading Housing Matters.
Solid Rock has written many articles for Housing Matters, including subject matter for Retirement, Enjoying the Outdoors and Aging In Place. Please visit our Housing Matters Index of articles here.