As parents and grandparents, we first need to think about the activities that we will be doing throughout the day and consider how to protect ourselves and loved ones from falls and falling injury/s.
Around the House
Most accidents indeed happen at the house. Add that to the increasing number of people, both young and elder, that work from home. Consider the following tips.
If possible, hire a professional to clean the gutters or get one of those gutter washers that you can use from the ground. Falls from the roof results in multiple injuries, and some are very serious.
Would you please not stand on a chair to change lights or clean those out-of-reach areas? Always use a reliable heavy-duty step ladder with anti-slip steps and handrails. Doctors from emergency rooms report that falls from chairs are a common case they treat.
Having the right lighting throughout the house is the best defense against tripping and falling. The stairways, hallways, and entrances are primary areas that should be adequately lit to see everything around you. The light switches should be easy to find and activate. Inexpensive nightlights should be placed anywhere you go at night, like the kitchen or bathroom. A small flashlight should also be kept nearby, possibly a keychain or next to the bed in case of an emergency or if the power goes out.
Falling on wood or tile kitchen floors can have a serious impact on the body. A wet slippery floor can be another cause for a fall, so clean up spills or fix a dripping refrigerator immediately. Using a no-slip floor wax rather than conventional floor wax will reduce accident probability. Keep a secondary heavy-duty step ladder with wide anti-slip steps and handrails for the kitchen.
The bathroom has the potential to be one of the most dangerous rooms. The slick hard floor floors from bath/shower water, along with the limited room to move around comfortably and metal towel rods, can make for a dangerous space to fall in. However, bathrooms can be made safe by the following:
- Handrails/grabs can be placed along the walls and shower/bath, near the toilet and sink. Make sure that the proper height is measured.
- Anti-slip bath/shower mats and anti-slip floormats can go a long way to help prevent falls. They provide traction and stability while standing and moving around.
- There are some top assisted bath devices in various drug stores and home centers. They include shower seats and walk-in baths.
- Raised toilet seats can be easily installed and shorten the distance needed to sit and, more importantly, get up comfortably from the toilet.
Elderly and physically challenged individuals could still need help. Make sure assistance is readily available. Elderly and physically challenged individuals could benefit by carrying an alarm or emergency contact system in case they fall or need help.
The stairway is an area that can be another danger zone. One stairway danger is the use of canes, walkers, and walkers with wheels. These can easily get snagged on a step, or the wheels can slip and quickly travel down the stairs. Safety railing and step mats with traction nibs can help prevent slips and falls. Outdoor stairs should have non-slip tape to prevent falling.
Carpeting and rugs are great for warmth, foot care, and decoration, but they can also pose a danger. Here are a few tips:
- Throw rugs that are not properly anchored to the floor should be anchored or used in an area that will not pose a potential injury. These rugs can be bought with a rubber backing to prevent slippage. Stores carry non-slip backing that can be cut and used between the floor and the rug.
- Carpeting needs to be smooth and not wrinkled, which can snag and cause tripping.
- Bent corners should be removed and fixed to prevent unraveling or tacked down with non-slip tape.
- Loose fibers need to be cut off.
Individuals that don’t use an assisted device like a cane or walker could find navigating through the house difficult. Furniture should be arranged and organized for easy maneuverability. Electrical cords should be safely placed out of the walking path. These cords can be tacked to the floorboard, placed behind/under furniture, or stored in special cord tubes/runners. Small tables, floor lamps, and plants should not be in the walking path as well as this can cause an easy bump to fall scenario.�
Footwear should be nice but also practical. Flat-soled shoes, high heels, not properly structured, or ill-fitting shoes can lead to slips and falls. Unsupported feet will not provide a solid foundation to help prevent a fall.
If there are foot issues, custom foot orthotics can really help stabilize balance, help the spine stay aligned, and bring relief from pain. Orthotics are designed to fit inside shoes to relieve pain from various foot conditions/issues. Non-slip and anti-slip soled shoes can also help prevent a slip and fall. With these types of shoes, care needs to be taken to avoid sticking to floor surfaces. This can contribute to stumbling and tripping. Don’t wear socks or hosiery on smooth tiled/wood floors; because there is no floor-foot traction, the potential for slipping increases.
When walking outside, if the sidewalk is slippery, walk on the grass or dirt area. Try walking in an area that does not show iciness or wetness. Cat litter or rock/sidewalk salt can provide foot traction.
Assistive Devices for Balance and Stability
If you feel unstable while walking, ask your doctor about an assisted device that includes canes and walkers. If using a cane, make sure the rubber grip tip is not worn down.
Here are a few tips that may help you to take a proactive approach to fall prevention. Depending on specific conditions and needs, you may want to talk to your doctor, chiropractor, physical therapist, or other health care professional. They will create a customized individual plan to help prevent falls and enjoy life.
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Aging is hard on the body. As you move into your senior years, you may expect some discomfort and loss of mobility. But it is important to understand that there are things you can do to feel better. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and chiropractic care can all make your senior years active and thriving.
The information herein on "Preventing Falls Around the House" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified health care professional.
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