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Senior Safety - Fall Prevention

Every year, thousands of older Americans experience a fall at home. Many of these falls result in serious injury and can even leave a once active elderly individuals disabled. In the year 2002, more than 12,800 individuals over the age of 65 died as the result of a fall. An additional 1.6 million older Americans were seen in emergency rooms as the result of a fall. Falls at home often occur as the result of hazards that are often overlooked. Here is a checklist that can help seniors avoid falls at home.

  • Take a look at the floors in each room of a senior’s home (or the home which they are staying at). Is there a clear path to walk through each room? If not, reconfigure the furniture so that it is safe for seniors to move from room to room. Are there rugs on the floor? If so, remove the rugs or use a double-sided tape or non-slip backing to help ensure that an older adult will not slide on the rugs. Look for objects on the floor (books, towels, shoes, blankets, magazines, etc..). Store these items in a place other than the floor. Finally, check for wires or cords. Coil or tape wires and cords so that they will not be tripped over.
  • Examine the stairs and steps. Be sure to remove any shoes, books, papers and other objects on the stairs. Make it a point not to leave objects on the stairs. Examine the quality of the stairs and carpet. Make any repairs to damaged carpet as well as broken stairs. Make sure all staircases have adequate lighting. Make sure staircases have handrails as well.
  • Take a close look at the kitchen and dining areas of your elderly family member or friend. Are a lot of items on high shelves? Aim to keep items in the kitchen that are frequently used on lower shelves (around waist level). If a step stool must be used, look for a stool with a bar to hold onto. Never use an unsteady stool or use a chair as a step stool.
  • Next, examine the bathrooms. Place a non-slip rubber mat in the floor of the tub or shower. If your friend or loved one needs support when getting in or out of the shower, install bars in the tub and near the toilet.
  • Finally, check out the bedrooms. There should be a lamp near the bed that is easy to reach. Additionally, use a night light so that your elderly loved one or friend can easily see when going from the bedroom to the bathroom at night – make sure this is a clear path.

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