Everyone is aware of the health risks associated with heart disease, stroke, and cancer. But often overlooked is another type of serious health risk especially affecting older adults—the risk of injury due to falling.
Learn about the risks
To raise awareness about the dangers of falling, the National Council on Aging declared September 23rd, the first day of fall, National Falls Prevention Awareness Day. Locally, the Grass Roots Organization for the Well-being of Seniors (GROWS) will host several events this month, in and near Montgomery County, as part of their falls-prevention initiative. I will be participating by giving a series of talks entitled “Who will catch you…when you fall?”
I hope to see you there!
Educating yourself about the risks is only the first step in preventing your loved ones from taking a life-changing stumble. The next step is to take necessary action to reduce the risks, while being well prepared in the event of a fall.
Many falls can be avoided. When we are out in public, we instinctively keep watch for uneven or slick surfaces that could catch our loved ones off guard. But the risk of falling can be even higher at home because it is easier to take for granted more familiar spaces. This means it is especially important to make our homes as safe as possible. The good news is that a little bit of effort can make your home A LOT safer.
Here are PBE’s suggestions for fall-proofing your home:
- Remove tripping hazards: Make all floor surfaces as even as possible: cover wooden door thresholds with aluminum; use a hammer to pound flat any metal that is sticking up. Make sure to remove toys, clothes, and other clutter from the floors, especially before going to bed. Outside, patch or re-pour any cracked cement surfaces and don’t forget to put away the garden hose after watering the plants.
- Increase lighting: Recessed lighting and track lighting are easy to install and fairly inexpensive. Nightlights in hallways and bathrooms are an even cheaper alternative to installing permanent lighting. Motion sensors are a great option if you’re worried about keeping energy costs down.
- Make stairs safe: If possible, make sure each step in your home is a uniform height. Check for any loose boards or missing screws and replace them as needed. Install lighting and slip-resistant tread, especially on outside steps. Never place objects like shoes or toys on stairs.
- Install grab bars in key areas: When it comes to falling risks, one of the most hazardous areas in the home is the bathroom. Along with making sure any spills are mopped up ASAP, it is smart to install grab bars in strategic areas, for example, in the shower or tub and near the toilet.
In addition to making structural improvements around the home, regular physical activity and exercise combining weight training, muscle strengthening, and balance improvement will help reduce the risk of falls for older adults.
Despite our best efforts at prevention though, some falls simply can’t be avoided. If the worst should happen, PBE offers easy-to-use products from emergency response monitors and medical alert buttons, to fall detectors to ensure your loved ones will be well taken care of. Whether out at the grocery store or at home in the shower, you and the older adults in your life can rest assured that help is on the way at the push of a button.
Be pro-active this fall and take the right steps to prevent falls in and around the home. Your loved ones are counting on you.