One in three seniors over the age of 65 fall each year and statistics on senior injuries as per a study by the Centers of Disease Control & Prevention,
“Approximately 80% of all bathroom injuries were caused by falls, with the highest injury rates in the oldest age groups. For adults aged 65 years and more, falls often cause serious injuries, such as hip fractures, attributed in part to osteoporosis, a metabolic disease that makes bones porous and susceptible to fracture."
This study found that older adults had the highest fracture rates and were hospitalized more often.
These fall related injuries, fractures or head trauma lead to the seniors seeking emergency care. Not only do these injuries potentially cause a loss in independence for seniors 65 years old and above, about 25% have a chance of dying within six months to a year after their fall.
Seniors are vulnerable to falls due to poor eyesight and reflexes, balance issues due to diabetes, heart diseases, thyroid and the side effects of various medications.
Here are a few precautions that could be undertaken to avoid senior injuries.
Care in the Bathrooms
It is important for them to know and exercise caution while getting in and out of tubs and showers. A preventative measure could be installing a shower or tub built around the unique needs of elderly adults. Installing grab bars near the toilet would provide an additional measure of safety.
Bathroom floors and walls should be cleaned regularly to get rid of slime build up which is very slippery and can lead to falls.
Due to poor vision and eyesight problems in seniors, it is of paramount importance that better lighting be installed especially at the top and bottom of stairs. It is also very important that the light switches and light points are right by the bed side of the seniors. This is necessary when they have to use the bathroom at night. Switches should be clearly visible and big enough so that they do not have to fumble to find them.
Avoid Having Rugs
Rugs can cause ageing seniors to slip, trip and fall and are not recommended in homes of seniors. Wall to wall carpeting and rugs which are large enough to cover big areas are better options. A senior home care institution can be consulted for advice on the types of carpeting.
Lower the Shelves
Old age causes spines to shrink and reaching around for things becomes very difficult. It is advised to install lower shelves and cupboards which can be reached by seniors with ease.
The latest technological innovations can help make the kitchens a safer place for our ageing loved ones. One such example is the new induction cook-top which can heat the pot or pan directly using an electromagnetic field instead of a gas burner or electrical coils. This keeps the cooking surface cool to the touch and prevents accidental burns, fire and gas explosions.
Spilled water on traditional tile and laminate flooring of the kitchens can create dangerous conditions. New non slip flooring made out of cork or rubber are safer and better options with regards to the safety of seniors.
Clutter Free Homes
It is important to keep the homes of the seniors free from any clutter, as they pose as hazards and can cause them to trip and fall. They could also cause hygiene problems as they hold a lot of dust and dirt.
One of the most effective fall prevention strategies for older adults is to include exercises in their daily routine to improve their strength and balance. A doctor should be consulted for advising exercises designed to improve balance, stability and overall mobility of seniors.
It is important to ensure that the above mentioned steps are undertaken for the safety of seniors. However, the specialized and personal care of a caregiver is irreplaceable. New Horizons HealthCare offers holistic senior home care services which ensure their well-being. New Horizons HealthCare also helps verify all assistive technology and adaptive devices (such as stair lift or grab bars for showers) are in place for the senior's safety and have relationships with the most trusted home modifications and adaptive technology companies in the area.
Want more information, please see our additional posts as part of our month-long series dedicated to information regarding Senior Fall Prevention, diagnoses, treatment, prevention and care.