Does your elderly loved one live alone without 24-hour care and monitoring? Perhaps they suffer from cognitive impairment, such as Alzheimer’s disease or aphasia. As their children and caretakers, we always bear one terrible thought in the back of our minds: that dreadful call from the emergency room informing us they have slipped and fallen. If that doesn’t scare you, consider that approximately 36 million falls are reported among the elderly each year, resulting in 32,000 deaths (according to the CDC).
There is no hiding the fact that as our elderly loved ones age, they become frailer and less stable. Even with around-the-clock support, falls are inevitable. We try our best to be there for them, but all we can do is put them in the best situation possible. Below is a comprehensive fall prevention guide with tips on keeping your aging loved one upright, off the floor, and out of the emergency room. If you are looking for home care services in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, don’t hesitate to contact At Home Care Louisiana today.
Top Places Around The Home For A Fall To Occur
Driveway and Entryways
Tip #1: Bathroom Safety Equipment
Outfitting your elderly loved one’s bathroom with safety equipment may seem obvious, but many caregivers fail to invest in crucial bathroom safety features. In fact, according to a small study by the National Library of Medicine, of 783 falls inside the home, those occurring in the bathroom were more than twice as likely to result in an injury compared to falls in the living room. This study indicates that it’s not just the likelihood of a fall resulting in an injury but the location. We recommend outfitting your elderly loved one’s bathrooms with non-slip bath and shower mats, grab bars, and raised toilet seats. Also, ensure they have two bathroom rugs—one placed in front of the sink and the other at the shower or tub entrance.
Tip #2: Add Safety Features To Stairs
Many seniors living at home still go up and down stairs daily. Whether your elderly loved one has an upstairs bedroom, downstairs basement, or simply a few stairs to go in and out of the garage, it is crucial to keep the stairs as safe as possible. Our first tip is to keep the stairs well-lit, especially around corners, bends, and the top and bottom stairs where step-illusions occur. We also recommend adding an extra layer of traction to the stairs. Carpet and non-slip treads are affordable options to create more grip on each stair. Don’t forget to add handrails throughout the length of the staircase for additional support. Lastly, if your elderly loved one cannot go up and down the stairs on their own, consider installing a stair lift.
Tip #3: Unclutter Kitchen
A sense of independence is beneficial for people of all ages, but especially for seniors who are accustomed to living according to their autonomy and self-determination. Cooking and preparing one’s meals is symbolic of independence, which explains why many seniors prefer to handle this specific activity of daily living for as long as possible. Meal preparation is tiring and creates clutter, resulting in unexpected accidents and untimely falls. Several tips to mitigate the risk of a fall are to move pet bowls out of the kitchen, transfer frequently used accessories to more accessible cabinets, and organize countertops and the refrigerator.
Tip #4: Driveway And Entryway Ramps
It is equally important to mitigate the risk of a fall outside the home. Various slopes, stairs, and outdoor surfaces can easily lead to a slip, especially in dark lighting or wet weather. Falling on hard cement can cause traumatic bone and head injuries, resulting in an emergency room visit or, even worse, death. Installing a driveway ramp decreases the risk of a senior slipping on the stairs as they enter or exit the home. Automatic lights assist when a senior forgets to turn on the outdoor light before leaving home, illuminating stairs, ice, and cement cracks. Installing handrails along outdoor stairs provides additional stability for seniors in any type of weather.
Tip #5: Make It Easy To Get Out Of Bed
Aching bones and stiff muscles in the morning are common at any age, but especially for senior citizens. Unless your elderly loved one has 24-hour care or lives with a family member, they probably get out of bed independently. Whether going to the bathroom in the middle of the night or grabbing a glass of water, falls commonly occur while getting out of bed. We recommend putting a nightlight in your elderly loved one’s room for better visibility in the dark. Place rubber protectors on the sharp corners of dressers and nightstands to protect against cuts and bruises while bumping into furniture. Encourage them to wear non-slip socks or slippers for better traction. Lastly, clean clutter on the floor to prevent unnecessary tripping.
Caring for an aging parent or loved one is a challenging task. Seniors often feel depressed and even embarrassed about losing their independence and ability to perform basic activities of daily living. The issue is compounded when they fall, suffer an injury, and are forced to go to the emergency room or relocate to a nursing home. There are many forms of memory loss you should watch out for with your elderly loved one, such as Alzheimer's or dementia. We hope the above article provides helpful tips for avoiding an unnecessary slip or fall. If you are looking for compassionate home care services in Baton Rouge, don’t hesitate to contact At Home Care of Louisiana. We are family owned and operated and have a 5-star rating on Google Business.