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Hello, Dan here, from Senior Safety Advisor, welcome to the discussion about fall prevention in the elderly. I live with my 88 year old father, who is a great guy, but very stubborn. In some ways being stubborn is what keeps him going and in other ways it is his worst enemy. What took me on the path of creating this site, was watching his everyday struggle with moving safely throughout the home.
He is in pretty good shape for his age except that he has severe arthritis in his joints. This makes it very hard for him to get around. I have tried to make the house we live in safe from falling, but their is always room for improvement. He does use two canes and a walker to get around.
Not to mention that we have a 110 lb Pit Bull who runs around the house. We have had “Ben, our dog”, for seven years and he has never caused a fall…” Dog lover here!”
There many things that you can do right now to make your home safe from falling. It doesn’t have to cost a lot and the benefits are huge! Many senior’s like my father think that falling won’t happen to them, they’ll just “be careful,” my father thought this and ended up falling twice.
After finding him twice, once on kitchen floor and another fall in his bedroom, I knew that I had to step in. He was very lucky not to have a serious injury, but that was enough for me to get off my behind and make some changes to the house.
Some statistics on falling.
The National Institute on Aging, states that more than 1 in 3 senior’s age 65 or older fall each year and your risk of falling increases as you get older. There are a number of reasons that can cause a senior to fall.
Health conditions, medications and the way that their home is not safely set up for them. Falls are not to be taken lightly, these accidents can lead to lengthy hospitalization, permanent disabilities or even death.
According to The American Bone Health Organization, falls are also very expensive. In 2000, direct medical costs added up to 179 million for fatal falls and 19 billion for non-fatal fall- related injuries. Most of these falls can be avoided by simply following a few guide lines.
Once an elderly person falls, even if they are not injured, can cause fear. This has an opposite effect on them, not wanting to be mobile. They slowly lose their independence, physical activity and it ironically increases the chance of falling.
What can you do – Let’s get started.
Start with removing all clutter. Take a walk through each room and look around. Many elderly people begin to leave stuff lying around. The reason being, that it is just harder for them to put things away. Take one room at a time and pick stuff off the floor. Put everything back in its place.
Take your time with this task and be thorough. Shoes, magazines, books, baskets, rugs, pet toys, electrical cords, and anything they can trip over. Ask them if they really need some of these items, if the answer is no, “throw it away!”
The room will now start to open up and this is what you want, creating spaces around the furniture large enough to use their walkers, canes and navigate around freely. Have a tape measure handy and measure, their should be plenty of space to make turns and easy access to all rooms.
Make sure that all rugs are non-slip and are at the entrance to absorb water dragged from outside. Slowly you will begin to make fall prevention in the elderly a priority.
I really recommend investing in some, “Non-Slip Rugs.”Just a simple thing like a rug can save a senior from falling. Most seniors are budget conscious and do not like to spend their money on something frivolous.
A good non-slip rug is a good investment. I would start with the bathroom, the most dangerous room in the house for seniors. It also makes a great gift to give a senior, they will love you for it. Click Here for my review on some great rugs that are non-slip…”Gorilla Grip Rugs.” Awesome!
Does your loved one have a pet? We all love are animals and they are a great companion. Pet ownership provides plenty of emotional and physical benefits, especially for senior’s. People who have pets tend to have lower blood pressure and pulse rates.
Seniors also benefit from companionship and feeling less lonely. They create greater opportunities for socializing and help fill the void of losing a loved one.
I live with my father and we have a 110 lb Pitbull. He is a “family member,” and my father and I love him. He has never knocked my father over or caused and injury. That being said, their are times when we have had some close calls due to our friend “Ben” the gentle giant.
Pets and the Elderly – “What are the risks.”
There are a few things to consider before running out to the nearest shelter. Every year their is about 21,000 senior’s that end up in the emergency room. Injuries can lead to fractures that can be life changing to an elderly person.
The benefits from owning a pet in my opinion still out weigh the mishaps. Below are 5 things you can do to cut down the risk of falling due to pets, It has worked for my Dad and it can work for you!
5 things you can do – Cut down the risk of falling from pets.
1. Animals getting under foot. Animals are curious and just want love and attention. This is all great, but can easily knock a senior off balance causing a fall and a trip to the hospital. Smaller animals are not at eye level and tripping over them is also a real danger. One simple thing you can do, is to attach a bell on their collar.
Knowing when and animal is coming or going helps decrease the danger of falling. Another thing to consider is adopting and older animal that is a little less aggressive. A senior dog or cat can be a much safer choice. Working with a trainer is also a good idea, money well spent, when considering the hazards of an unruly pet.
2. Chasing after a pet – don’t do it! The mailman comes to the door and their goes your “indoor cat.” Your gut reaction is to run after your cat or dog. You don’t want your pet to get hurt or get lost, common sense goes out the door along with your pet.
What you can try to do is plan ahead. Have a plan in place, when someone comes to the door. My father or I, always put the dog in another room when we know company is coming over, or a package is being delivered. The most important thing to remember is to, “always put yourself first”. You can’t take care of your pet from the emergency room!
3. Big dogs who jump. In my case, it’s my 110 lb pit bull “Ben”. I adopted Ben as a puppy when my father was still pretty mobile. As things progressed with my father’s arthritis, Ben naturally adapted to being very careful around my father. In six years we have never had a mishap, somehow Ben just new.
But not all pet owners are so lucky. Smaller dogs can also jump up and knock a person off balance. Again, paying a trainer is well worth the money. If you can not afford a trainer, look online for solutions and training advice. There is always an answer out their, keep searching until you find a solution. Ask others for advice!
4. Falling when walking your pet. You and your pet can get great benefits from walking. The downside is that many dogs pull. My dog “Ben”, is a big – puller. Sometimes, I think he is taking me for a walk.
He has greatly improved over the years, but now and then, he will see a cat or a squirrel, and forget everything he has learned. If you have an animal like Ben, I suggest you get a young strong relative or friend who loves animals to walk your pet. You can still tag along and get in some exercise.
5. Pet junk. All the great toys that you bought can get under your feet causing you to trip and fall. Water spills should be cleaned up right away. Place an absorbent Matt under the food and water dish to keep the floor dry and safe. Keep the floors clean, a clean organized house is always a much safer environment.
We talked a little on what you can do for fall prevention in the elderly. As I go further in this blog, I will give you many more ideas on how to make your home a safer place for mom, dad, grandma, grandpa or just a good friend. We all need to help and it really just takes a small amount of time in your day to create a safe environment.
I have made my father’s and my home a much safer home. Check the list below to go over some of what we discussed it is worth looking at. There are many other ideas and unique practical products I will discuss in other posts.
13 point check list – For a safer home!
- Remove clutter.
- Create space to walk around and turn.
- Use assisting devices, grab bars, walker, non – slip rugs in bath tubs and showers.
- Make sure you have good lighting. Outside and inside.
- Have a sturdy bench in the shower.
- Make sure heavy item are on the floor – items should be at arms reach.
- Make sure the outside walk ways are clear from leaves, branches and the welcome Matt can not be tripped over.
- Beds and furniture should not be to high or to low.
- Install a second railing on the stairs and mark steps with a bright colored paint or tape.
- Be sure to clean up all spills.
- Look at the lighting. Install motion detectors outside. Always turn on light when entering a room.
- Keep cabinets and drawers shut.
- Make sure to have a bright collar on your pet – place a bell on them to avoid tripping.
I can’t stress how important it is to follow these guidelines. It only takes one fall to impact a senior’s life. Any one of these easy things to do, can keep a senior safe. Don’t put it off, make time and start today. You will sleep much better knowing that your loved one is safer.
Sometimes a senior can be stubborn like my father, they will tell you, “don’t worry about it”! Or, you have done too much already. Just tell them that you enjoy helping them and go about your business.
Thanks for reading this post and have a much safer day!