When we evaluate a home for senior remodeling in Jacksonville, we’re always looking for anything in the house that might cause a potential risk for falling. When you consider the following research numbers, you can easily see why preventing falls in the home is so important.
* About one third of the elder population over the age of 65 falls each year, and the risk of falls increases proportionately with age. At 80 years, over half of seniors fall annually.
* As alarming as they are, these documented statistics fall short of the actual number since many incidents are unreported by seniors and unrecognized by family members or caregivers.
* Frequent falling. Those who fall are two to three times more likely to fall again.
* About half (53%) of the older adults who are discharged for fall-related hip fractures will experience another fall with in six months.
Falls are not just the result of getting older. Many falls can be prevented and are usually caused by a number of things. By changing some of these simple things, you can lower your chances of falling.
Here’s what the CDC recommends for seniors to reduce the risk of falling at home:
1. Begin a regular exercise program.
Exercise is one of the most important ways to reduce your chances of falling. It makes you stronger and helps you feel better. Exercises that improve balance and coordination (like Tai Chi) are the most helpful. Lack of exercise leads to weakness and increases your chances of falling. Ask your doctor or health care worker about the best type of exercise program for you. (We can vouch for this one as we encouraged my 82 year old handicapped mother to take advantage of physical therapy at home after she was hospitalized to get her strength back. We feel this was THE MOST important step in her recovery and helped to prevent her from having a fall in our home (so far). We encourage her to do her exercises regularly and we often find her taking laps around the kitchen island with her walker).
2. Make your home safer.
About half of all falls happen at home. To make your home safer:
* Remove things you can trip over (such as papers, books, clothes, and shoes) from stairs and places where you walk.
* Remove small throw rugs or use double-sided tape to keep the rugs from slipping.
* Keep items you use often in cabinets you can reach easily without using a step stool.
* Have grab bars put in next to your toilet and in the tub or shower.
* Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors. (Home Depot and Lowe’s sell grip tape strips you can place on slippery floors in the bathroom).
* Improve the lighting in your home. As you get older, you need brighter lights to see well. Lamp shades or frosted bulbs can reduce glare.
* Have handrails and lights put in on all staircases.
* Wear shoes that give good support and have thin non-slip soles. Avoid wearing slippers and athletic shoes with deep treads.
3. Have your health care provider review your medicines.
Have your doctor or pharmacist look at all the medicines you take (including ones that don’t need prescriptions such as cold medicines). As you get older, the way some medicines work in your body can change. Some medicines, or combinations of medicines, can make you drowsy or light-headed which can lead to a fall.
4. Have your vision checked.
Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor. You may be wearing the wrong glasses or have a condition such as glaucoma or cataracts that limits your vision. Poor vision can increase your chances of falling.
At Home Sweet Accessible Home, Jacksonville’s remodeling company for seniors and the disabled, we focus our FREE in-home safety evaluations by inspecting all areas of the home that might present a danger for falls; the entry and exit of the home, bathrooms, kitchens, hallways and stairwells. Most often we can suggest very minimal changes to the home for added safety and fall prevention such as removal of rugs, addition of grip tape and/or adding lighting for dark hallways and bathroom shadows. We also carry a full line of new, innovative mobility products to help ease mobility throughout the home. If you or someone you love would like a free in home consultation on how we can help them make their home safer and more comfortable, please call us today!