Falls are a common problem among older adults. It has been estimated that one-third of people over the age of 65 will have one fall on an annual basis, with this figure rising to 50% concerning those aged 80 plus. With almost 60% of these falls resulting in physical injuries that range from minor cuts to hip fractures, fall-proofing an older adult’s home is essential to mitigate both risk and injury.
In this article, we take a look at the potential fall hazards that exist within the home of an older adult and discuss the most essential fall-proofing measures to put in place.
Start with the entrance and exit
The entrance and exit to the home can be a common area for falls. From slippery or uneven steps to porches decorated with plants, umbrellas, shoes and more, there are numerous hazards to navigate before getting over the threshold.
Family members must ensure that the area is well-lit and that there are no items on the floor. All steps should be tested for sturdiness and ideally have non-slip surfaces, while fall mats can also be introduced in areas of the home where falls may be more likely to occur.
Ensure there is adequate lighting throughout the house
Installing ample lighting in critical areas is a vital step in preventing falls among older people. These areas include hallways and landings, next to the bed, at entry points in every room and at the top and bottom of the stairs.
Poor lighting can make it difficult to see steps, uneven surfaces, and trip hazards, so family members should improve matters by installing additional lights, replacing bulbs with higher wattage, and ensuring that light switches are easily accessible.
Install grab bars and handrails
Grab bars and handrails can provide support and stability for older adults, especially in areas such as the bathroom or on staircases. These bars can help prevent falls by providing a sturdy surface to hold onto while standing or moving.
Consider installing a second handrail along the stairs to provide double the support and to aid with balance. Grab bars should also be fitted within the shower or next to the bath and toilet. A handrail at the front door also provides great security, offering stability when ascending steps or opening the door.
Identify and eliminate slip and trip hazards
Slip and trip hazards are common in the home and can include anything from loose rugs and electrical cords to leaks and slippery surfaces like wooden floors or tiles. Household pets such as dogs and cats without a bell on their collar can also be a potential trip hazard, while wearing socks or ill-fitting shoes around the house can lead to slips and trips that will result in a fall.
Eliminate these hazards by removing unnecessary items from walkways, securing loose rugs with double-sided tape or slip-resistant backing, tucking all wires away safely, and ensuring an older adult wears non-slip, well-fitting footwear when at home.
Other effective ways to fall-proof an older adult’s home
While we’ve covered the most pressing areas of concern, other measures will further protect older adults from falls at home. These include:
- Outline the edge of indoor steps with brightly coloured tape
- Keep all frequently used items throughout the house within easy reach
- Place a non-slip mat inside the bath or shower
- Install a shower chair or shower seat if necessary
- Consider using mobility aids such as walkers, canes, and rollators
O Neill Healthcare is your one-stop-shop when fall-proofing an older adult’s home
Preventing falls in older adults is essential for their safety and well-being. At O Neill Healthcare, we offer a range of fall management products and services to help prevent falls and promote safety in the home.
Our range includes mobility aids, grab bars and handrails, as well as lifting chairs and bed bumpers. We also offer expert advice and support to help family members identify potential hazards and take the necessary steps to fall-proof their loved ones’ homes.
Get in touch with us today to ensure your older loved one is safe and sound in the comfort of their own home.