You may be surprised to learn that the leading cause of death in women between the ages of 65-85 is falling. It is also the fourth leading cause of death for men in that age group. For those over the age of 85, it is the leading cause. As the number of elderly living independently increases, so does the risk of slips and falls. There are things that can be put in place to minimize the risks.
Fall Prevention Audit
This may not be a popular assessment yet, but, out of necessity, it probably will be in the future. A fall prevention audit of the home will identify areas that pose a hazard. There are obvious risks of falling, such as slippery floors, throw rugs and uneven floors. There are also risks that are not so obvious. The fall prevention audit will identify all the risks in the home.
You can find tools online to help conduct an audit for fall prevention. These assessments are helpful in making determinations regarding making the home safer for the older person.
Simple Fixes for the Obvious
Tripping over throw rugs doesn’t just happen with the elderly, though it is a big issue there. Removing throw rugs is the most expedient thing to do. If you feel they are necessary, you may want to tape the edges down to eliminate the possibility of getting a toe caught under the edge. You’ll need to check the tape regularly to make sure it isn’t coming up and posing a hazard as well.
Another obvious hazard spot is in the bathroom. Slips and falls in the tub and shower are more common than necessary. Getting a plastic or vinyl bath mat that has suction cups on the bottom will help prevent falls and slips. Be sure the surface is somewhat grippy because a soaped up foot can still be quite slippery. Adding rails or hand grips will also help. A shower chair will not only be more comfortable for an older person, but it can also help reduce the risk of slipping while showering.
Check the soles of shoes and slippers. While many shoe styles older people are inclined to wear provide the traction needed to prevent slips and falls, some may not. Smooth soles can be a hazard on certain surfaces, even when they are dry. Slippers too, while comfortable, all too often do not have any gripping power, especially when they are new. They can easily cause problems on carpets and bare floors.
Check the floors for hazards. Electrical cords, stacks of books and magazines, and other objects can pose a problem. Make sure walkways are clear of items that could cause a tumble.
Adequate lighting is another quick fix. Not having enough light to see clearly is an issue. The lights don’t need to be blazing bright, but they do need to be bright enough to see if there is anything in the path.
Keep Things Within Reach
In the kitchen, put regularly used items within reach. If at all possible, completely eliminate the need for a stepstool. If there are things on upper shelves that are used more often, move them down to a lower shelf.
In the bedroom, make sure things are conveniently located. For example, don’t leave a lot of space between the bed and the nightstand. Rolling over to turn off a light could lead to falling out of bed if the lamp is too far away.
While everyone takes a tumble at some point in their life, many of the hazards of falling or slipping in the home are preventable. With planning and common sense, you can eliminate most of the obstacles to having a safe home.
Planning is key to most aspects of life. However, even the best plans sometimes fail. The law firm of Frohlich, Gordon & Beason, P.A. is here to help when you have legal issues that need to be addressed. As community members of the Port Charlotte, FL, area, and attorneys who care about our clients, we invite you to consult with us at (941) 979-9010 when you have questions that require a lawyers’ expertise.