Accidents are an unfortunate part of life, but none of us likes the idea of experiencing pain or discomfort as a result of an accident within our own home. Unfortunately, slips, trips and falls are incredibly common – in the workplace, on the street and even on our own staircases. Falls on stairs may be more common in elderly individuals who may suffer from visual impairment or poor balance, but the ways to prevent falls on stairs are the same for all age demographics.
To prevent falls on stairs, follow these tips:
It may seem a strange suggestion, but lighting plays a major role in how easy or safe a staircase can be. Poorly lit areas make it harder for individuals to distinguish where steps start and end, and this can lead to insecure footing and falls or slips.
The trick is to make sure the light is well positioned to increase visibility across the entire length and width of the staircase. Use a suitable wattage bulb to suit the visibility needs which you have. Having a light switch at the top and bottom of the staircase is also recommended.
It’s not just what’s above you that is important – what sits below is equally vital. With staircases, loose carpet or rugs and mats can pose a real risk to users. This is because they are unstable and can move underfoot, resulting in potentially dangerous accidents.
To cut down on the likelihood of experiencing a trip or fall on the staircase, make sure that any carpet is secured down professionally. If you notice loose edges or frayed threads, then get them corrected as soon as possible, as small problems like this can soon escalate.
It also recommended to keep any loose mats or rugs away from areas which surround the staircase. The edges of these can curl, providing the perfect catalyst to a trip or fall when caught by your foot. Eliminate this risk by using mats and rugs in another area.
Another tip you can use to reduce your chances of falling on the stairs is to evaluate your staircase from an impartial perspective. You can get mathematical and look at step geometry (which analyzes different dimensions on the staircase) as well as looking at other practical considerations – such as whether there is sufficient support provided by handrails.
The safest staircases are those framed by handrails which run the entire length of the staircase on either side, but there are other options. Those who really struggle with the stairs, not just through fear of falling but because of poor mobility or aching joints, can use stairlifts instead. These offer a comfortable seat which travels the length of the staircase in both directions and helps reduce falls as a result.
This article is written on behalf of Stannah Stairlifts, who provide mobility aids to rent or purchase.
Image Credit: A. Schaeffer on stock.xchng
What causes falls in the home? One cause is the state of your home, such as slippery floors, loose carpet on the stairs, or poor lighting in a cluttered hallway. The other cause is an individual’s personal health and well-being. Weak legs, poor posture, fading eyesight, and side effects from your medications can all contribute to the likelihood of a fall.
The good news is that you can take steps to enhance your well-being and prevent falls.
“If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it” is true when it comes to muscle strength and balance. Regular exercise strengthens your muscles and improves your balance, thereby reducing your chances of falling. Better coordination and flexibility are also a bonus.
Gentle exercise programs such as yoga and Tai chi are popular with seniors. Even seated exercises enhance your health. The important thing is to get your body moving, at least several times a week.
Poor eyesight makes it difficult to see tripping hazards or to see dips and rises in the path ahead of you. Get your vision checked regularly, and make sure your prescription eyeglasses are up to date.
If you need to wear glasses, put them on even for short trips to the bathroom at night. Turn on the lights if you need to walk to the kitchen or bathroom during the night. Better lighting will help you judge depth and distance as you walk.
If your healthcare provider has recommended the use of a cane, walker, or rollator, make sure you use the mobility device around the house. Thinking that you don’t need your cane or walker “just this once” could lead to a fall. Keeping your mobility sometimes requires assistance, even if you don’t think you need it.
Ask your healthcare provider about the side effects of any medications or over-the-counter supplements that you are currently taking. Take note if any of them cause drowsiness, dizziness, or disorientation. These conditions may increase the risk of falling.
If your medications cause these side effects, your healthcare provider may recommend using a cane or walker for balance. They may also be able to switch you to a different medication with fewer side effects.
Maintaining a sense of independence and dignity is important for seniors, especially when it comes to using the bathroom. Certain bath and toilet safety products can reduce the risk of falls and help seniors keep their independence for longer.
If you’ve ever used the handicapped stall in a public restroom, you’ve probably noticed that the seat is higher. A raised toilet seat makes it easier to sit down and stand up. There’s less strain on your back, knees, and legs.
The good news is that you don’t have to buy a taller toilet to modify your bathroom at home. You can purchase a raised toilet seat and attach it securely to the toilet. Some elevated toilet seats come with side arms for extra support when sitting down or standing up.
The other thing you’ll notice in a handicapped are the grab bars—often on both sides of the toilet. You can install grab bars at home if there are places to install them on either side of the toilet.
If not—or if you want a more temporary modification—you can purchase a stand-alone toilet safety rail. The frame surrounds the toilet and gives you extra support for sitting down and leverage for standing up. Some commode chairs can be installed over the toilet for a safety frame as well.
Another option is a safety pole, an adjustable floor-to-ceiling pole that does not require mounting. You can use it next to the toilet. Safety poles can also be used next to your bed or living room easy chair.
For seniors who can’t make it to the bathroom on their own, a commode offers convenience and can be used in any room in the house. Heavy duty commodes are available for bariatric patients.
Thanks to Michael Sauri, president of TriVistaUSA, for providing the following tips on aging at home for seniors. TriVistaUSA was recognized by Remodeling Magazine as one of the “Big 50″ Remodelers in the United States.
According to research from the AARP, nearly 90% of seniors would prefer to stay in their own homes as they age. This trend is referred to as “aging in place.” From the point of view of a remodeler, aging in place means making sure that people have the best designed space but have no barriers to access or independent living.
If you want to age in place, here are ten basics you need to consider:
The first concern in making a house friendly for wheelchairs or arthritic limbs is an entrance without steps. Some individuals feel that a wheelchair ramp in the front of the house can spoil the look and feel of their home.
As an alternative, we suggest adding a wrap-around porch, with a ramp at the back of the house that matches the porch material so that there is no aesthetic break. The ramp can lead right to the garage or to the place where the car is parked. Also, a porch will allow a person in a wheelchair to sit outside.
Doors and hallways that are wide enough for a wheelchair, rollator, or walker are especially important for movement within a house. The modern trend is towards more open space with fewer walls and bigger rooms. Wide doors and hallways make a house look and feel luxurious.
Different floor coverings require thresholds—those bumps in the path of internal flow. Using consistent flooring throughout the house—whether you choose wood, laminate or tile—eliminates the need for thresholds. This allows for easier movement and adds to an open, cohesive feeling. If you want carpet in the bedrooms, ask your remodeler to use low thresholds.
The typical kitchen countertop today is 36 inches high. The old standard was 30 inches high—about the height of your desktop. Use the old standard for countertops for some or all of your kitchen; they are easily accessible for someone in a wheelchair.
Going back to the old standards, a farmhouse-style sink can allow the wheelchair-bound person to move in close to the sink to do dishes. If you don’t like the farmhouse look, you can have the under-sink cabinet doors designed so that the wheelchair can be moved in close. You’ll have to store your cleaning chemicals somewhere else—a good safety feature, anyways.
Deep kitchen drawers on slides are easy for someone in a wheelchair to use. I actually think they are easier for non-wheelchair users as well. Put the dishwasher next to the sink and the drawers next to the dishwasher. If you don’t need upper cabinets, you can use the upper space in your kitchen for more windows.
Design your bathroom so that it is big enough to spin a wheelchair—about 50 to 55 inches in diameter. A spacious bathroom will give you the feel of luxury, while affording the wheelchair-bound individual the privacy and capability to handle his or her own grooming needs.
There are four options in designing a wheelchair-accessible shower:
Consider smart technology, such as motion sensors, to automatically turn a light on and off when you enter or leave a room. This is especially handy for the bathroom. You can even have the bathroom fan set on a timer to make sure you completely dry the moisture to avoid mold and mildew problems.
Ask your remodeler to install blocking while framing in baths, stairways and hallways so you can add grab bars when you need them. Plan ahead, since a small add-on like this is basically free.
These are just a few suggestions for creating a retirement home that is accessible, safe and convenient as well as beautiful. Consult a remodeling specialist for more options. Check with the local chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) for licensed remodelers in your area.
As you grow older, navigating stairs becomes more difficult. Avoiding stairs is the best way to avoid a fall, but sometimes that’s not possible.
Here are some tips to help you safely go up and down the stairs in your home or away from home.
Photo credit takomabibelot on Flickr via ESP
Bathing should be enjoyable for the elderly, but because of the fear of falling, they may avoid baths. Here are 7 things you can do to make bathing safer for your loved one.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three adults over the age of 65 will fall each year. And the consequences can be fatal: falls are the leading cause of injury death for the elderly. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of falls by improving the safety of their environment and making sure they have adequate mobility support.
What can you do to prevent a fall? Let’s look at 4 ways to stay on your feet:
If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it! Maintaining physical strength, flexibility, and balance are important for preventing falls. If you don’t continue to exercise and use the muscles that you have, they will become weaker.
Poor vision (or not wearing glasses prescribed by a doctor) makes it difficult to see potential tripping hazards. Get your vision checked regularly, and wear glasses if needed.
Recovery from surgery, illness, and injury takes time. Don’t do more than your doctor or physical therapist recommends. Give your body time to heal, and use a mobility aid (such as a cane, walker, rollator, or wheelchair) to prevent re-injury. Bathroom safety products, such as a shower chair and grab bars, are also helpful.
Do you have loose rugs, poor lighting, or clutter on the floor? Taking simple steps to improve the safety of your home is key to preventing falls in the home.
The older you get, the more serious a fall can be. Broken bones are common in the elderly, and they take much longer to heal. The best way to prevent injuries from a fall is to prevent falls in the first place! Here are some tips to prevent falls at home.
Being able to live at home is important to aging seniors, yet as they get older, everyday tasks often become more difficult, falls become more dangerous, and caregivers may worry about leaving their loved ones alone. Fortunately, there are ways that living at home can be made safer for seniors, giving both caregivers and seniors greater peace of mind.
Since the bathroom is one of the most common places to fall, we’ll cover a few ways you as a caregiver can make the bathroom a safer place while allowing your loved one to maintain as much independence as possible.
A bath seat allows the user to remain seated while cleaning up, thereby reducing the risk of falls in the tub and shower. Bath seats are available in a variety of styles and sizes, including bariatric seats for users over 250 pounds, teak wood for elegant styling, and portable folding styles for travel. Available features include backrests, handles, suction cups, and padding.
A bath transfer bench makes it easier for the user to get in and out of a bathtub. Instead of stepping over the tub rim, your loved one can sit down on the edge of the bench, lift each leg into the tub, and slide over to the middle of the seat. Handles, backrests, drainage holes, and other features increase safety and comfort.
A handheld shower allows the user to wash and control the flow of water while remaining seated.
An elevated toilet seat makes it easier to sit down and get up from the toilet. Support arms provide an extra boost for standing up, and they reduce the risk of losing your balance.
Installing grab bars around the toilet and tub or shower is an easy way to provide extra support and prevent falls. Encourage your loved one NEVER to use a towel bar, door handle, shower door, wall-mounted sink, or other object to support their weight. These objects can break free and throw their weight off balance. Only securely mounted grab bars are designed to support body weight.
Slip-resistant mats and non-slip adhesive strips provide confident footing on slippery surfaces, such as tub and shower floors and bathroom tile floors. These surfaces become very slippery when wet, leading to a higher risk of falls.
Loose rugs are tripping hazards. Remove throw rugs from the bathroom, or secure them to the floor with heavy duty carpet tape.
Trips to the bathroom at night can be hazardous. Seniors are more likely to trip over objects or lose their balance in dark or dim rooms. Plug in automatic night lights in the bathroom, hallways, stairways, and other areas around the house as needed. These lights will come on automatically at dusk and turn off at dawn.
If your loved one struggles to make it to the bathroom, you may want to consider getting a commode chair. A self-contained commode can be placed in the bedroom next to the bed to provide easy access to a toilet. Most commode chairs can also be installed over a toilet seat to act as an elevated toilet seat with support arms.
The older a person gets, the greater the chances are that a fall could result in serious injury or even death. Broken bones and other injuries take longer to heal and present more complications for older adults. That’s why it’s important to take any necessary steps to prevent a fall from happening in the first place. Fortunately, most falls can be prevented. The following safety checklist includes fall prevention tips from the National Center for Injury Prevention & Control (NCIPC) and other organizations concerned with health and home safety for seniors.
You can find out more about fall prevention and senior home safety at the NCIPC website at www.cdc.gov/injury.