Home Modifications to Prevent Falls in Older Adults

Most older adults choose to live at home as long as possible and who can blame them! However, falls can be extremely dangerous, especially if home alone.  If you or a loved one is living alone, it is important to make sure their home is as safe as possible. The aim to is to decrease the chance of falling while still allowing them to maintain the same quality of life. According the the CDC, “Every second of every day, an older adult (age 65+) suffers a fall in the U.S.—making falls the leading cause of injury and injury death in this age group”. 

The good news is that falls can be prevented! We have discussed the importance of an exercise program for fall prevention in one of our recent posts. However, additional measures can be taken to ensure the safety of a loved one. Today, we will be discussing home and lifestyle modifications to make life easier and decrease the risk of a fatal fall. 

Medication safety: 

For many older adults, taking multiple medications is a part of everyday life. While medicines improve quality of life, they are powerful and need to be used with care. Mixing up or improperly taking medications can cause symptoms that increase the change of falls such as dizziness, confusion and/or blurred vision.

  • Distinguish between different medications with large print labels or use tactile markings such as brightly colored tags.

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  • Organize pills (or have someone assist) in a pill holder with separate compartments for different days of the week.
  • Mark common dosage levels on medicine cups.
  • If possible, pills in blister packs are easier to dispense than pills loosely stored inside a bottle.

Bathroom safety

When it comes to fall prevention, the bathroom deserves a lot of attention. The sleek surfaces found in a bathroom, such a tile and porcelain make it very dangerous. According the to CDC, over 230,000 people are injured in the bathroom each year. However, making a few home modifications can help decrease falls.

  • Install grab rails in the bath and shower.
  • Put non-slip mats inside the bath and shower.
  • Choose towels that add contrast. If your bathroom is light-colored, try a dark towel. 
  • Try switching to electric shavers because they are safer and easier to use than razors.
  • Soap can become a tripping hazard if it falls on the floor during a shower. Try using soap-on-a-rope or switch to body wash instead.

Kitchen safety:

We can’t deny how much time we spend in the kitchen. Whether you spend most of your time cooking or looking for food to appear in the fridge, there are many aspects that make the kitchen a big fall zone. A fall could occur from tripping on a spill, reaching in a high cabinet or even trying to get out of chair. Try these adjustments to make the kitchen a little safer for you or a loved one.

  • Use kitchen cutters rather than knives to open packets.
  • Twist open stubborn jar lids wearing rubber gloves, or use a handheld jar opener, rather than trying to loosen the lid under hot running water.
  • Wash knives with a long-handled brush.
  • Make it a habit to turn saucepan handles away from you, to prevent accidental knocks.
  • Add a water-absorbent, non-skid mat in front of the sink and stove.
  • Use kitchen chairs with arms to stand up more easily.
  • Store frequently-used items in easy-to-reach cabinets.
  • Clean up spills immediately.
  • Stay off freshly mopped floors.
  • Use a sturdy step stool with a handle for balance support to get to high cabinets.

Contact Us!

If you want to learn more about fall prevention you can check out this exercise program to combat falls. If you would like to learn more about how BeneFIT Physical Therapy can help you or your loved one, please give us a call at 908.203.5200 (Bridgewater) or 908.879.5700 (Chester).

 

Sources:

https://journals.lww.com/journalpatientsafety/Citation/2009/03000/Medication_Safety_for_Seniors.10.aspx

https://www.rightathome.net/fall-prevention/kitchen

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/ConditionsAndTreatments/vision-loss-safety-around-the-home