Each year, the BC government proclaims the month of November as Seniors’ Fall Prevention Awareness Month to raise awareness about preventing falls and injuries among older adults, and to encourage leadership and collaboration among health authorities across the province.
1 out of 3 adults over the age of 65 will fall this year and over 3 million older adults will end up in a hospital emergency room this year because of a fall. Here are some things you can do to help prevent falls, and live safely in your home.
Clean up clutter
The easiest method for preventing falls is to keep your house neat and tidy. Remove all clutter, such as stacks of old newspapers and magazines especially from hallways and staircases.
Repair or remove tripping hazards
Sometimes home fixtures can contribute to falls which can then lead to back pain and other injuries. Examine each room in your house looking for items such as loose carpet, slippery throw rugs, or wood floorboards that stick up. Then repair, remove, or replace those items for more effective fall prevention.
Install grab bars and handles.
These safety devices are crucial for going up and down stairs, getting on and off the toilet, and stepping in and out of the bathtub without injuring yourself.
Avoid wearing loose clothing
You want to feel comfortable at home, but baggy clothes can sometimes make you more likely to fall. Opt for better-fitting and properly hemmed clothing that don’t bunch up or drag on the ground.
Light it right
Inadequate lighting is another major hazard. To create a home that’s more suitable for the elderly, install brighter light bulbs where needed, particularly in stairways and narrow hallways.
Socks may be comfortable, but they present a slipping risk. Preventing falls at home can be as simple as wearing shoes. You can also purchase non-slip socks that have grips on the soles of the feet if shoes are too uncomfortable.
Make it nonslip
Bathtubs and showers, as well as floors in kitchens, bathrooms, and porches can become extremely dangerous when wet. To prevent falls on slick surfaces, nonslip mats are recommended.
Live on a one level
Even with all the precautions like guardrails, stairs can present a significant falling hazard. If at all possible living on one level can prevent falls. If it is not possible, try to limit the amount of trips you take up and down stairs.
Move more carefully
Many people fall from moving too quickly from a sitting to a standing position and vice versa. Try to pause after going from lying down to sitting and from sitting to standing. Also take a pause before using the railing on stairs, whether going up or down.
Maintain a healthy diet
Eating well is important for anyone of any age; however, in order to maintain optimal muscle and bone strength, it is crucial that you consume a healthy diet. Poor diets can lead to physical weakness and fatigue, which increase an individual’s risk of falls.
Visit your family doctor
Your doctor will be able to assess whether you’re at risk for a fall. When you go see your doctor it’s important you discuss the following:
- Medications you are currently on as certain medications have side effects that can make you more prone to falling.
- Your history of falling which can give insight to the Doctor to help prevent similar falls.
- Health conditions- make sure your doctor is aware of any health conditions you have such as ear and eye disorders which may increase your risk.
What to do if your loved one has fallen
If you are a witness to a fall, resist the urge to try and get the person up immediately; the individual may be fragile and lifting him or her too quickly can cause further injuries.
If the individual cannot get up
Call for help (911). Once help is on its way, document the fall to better assist the first responders and doctors. You can also help the person get in a comfortable position and keep them warm by using a blanket or item of clothing.
If the individual appears to have the ability to get up – follow these steps:
- Bring a chair close to the individual and help them into the recovery position.
- Bracing the individual from behind, with a firm grip on their hips, help them into a kneeling position with both hands on the seat of the chair.
- With the individual’s strongest leg in front, help guide the person up.
- With a firm grip still on the individual’s hips, help the person stand.
- Help the individual sit on the chair.
Hopefully with all the information above, you can be well on you way to keeping yourself or a loved one safe.