A few simple home improvement projects can make the world of difference when it comes to keeping you and your loved ones safe from dangerous falls
Falls are the #1 cause of injuries in seniors. Falls can result in hip fractures, cut and sometimes even serious head and brain injuries that can be fatal. Even if the injury is not serious, a fall can lead to a lack of confidence resulting in seniors wanting to avoid certain activities.
The most frequent of falls happen at home, where one might have a false sense of security. That is why fall prevention measures need to start at home.
Clean up the clutter
The first port of call is keeping your home neat and tidy and devoid of all clutter. Get rid of stacks of old newspapers and magazines, boxes and electrical cords, especially from hallways and staircases.
Identify tripping hazards, and repair or remove them
Think about loose carpets, slippery throw rugs or wooden floorboards that are sticking up. These seemingly harmless home fixtures can contribute to monumental falls, and need to be repaired, removed or replaced. Store clothing, dishes, food and other necessities within easy reach.
Consider installing grab bars and handrails
These are great safety devices which are crucial for going up and down the stairs, for getting on and off the toilet and for getting in and out of the bath or shower. Your local handyman or family member can assist with installing these.
Moving too quickly from a sitting to standing position can cause giddiness, and a fall. Just take your time. Pause after going from lying to sitting and from sitting to standing. If you have to use the stairs, pause before going up or down the stairs. Lyn says: “My GP advised the following – if you have been sitting for any length of time, before getting up, stamp both feet a few times, to get the circulation going”
Clothing and shoes
Ensure that loose clothing is not dragging on the ground. You don’t want to trip up over too long a pair of trousers or skirt. Wear shoes at home – socks present a slipping risk.
Check your lighting
Inadequate lighting can be another major hazard. Install bright lights in stairways and narrow hallways, and add night-lights in the bedrooms and bathrooms for better guidance at night. Store torches and candles in easy-to-find places in case loadshedding hits.
Wet floors can be lethal. Use nonslip mats wherever possible in the bath, the shower as well as floors in kitchens, bathrooms and porches.
And lastly, make an appointment with your GP to assess your risk and discuss fall prevention strategies. He/she may wish to discuss the medication you take, previous falls and the condition of your health.
Continual physical activity is crucial when it comes to fall prevention. Activities reduce the risk of falls by improving strength, balance, coordination and flexibility. If you are very inactive, your GP may refer you to a physical therapist or biokineticist who will create an exercise programme for you aimed at improving your balance, flexibility and muscle strength.
It is never too late to make steps towards
improving balance and mitigating risk factors.
Additionally, remember that fall prevention can reduce financial burden
and injuries, increase independence, and can even save a life!