Every 11 seconds in the United States, an older person is rushed to the emergency room after a slip or a fall. These visits result in 2.8 million injuries, 800,000 hospitalizations, and 27,000 deaths annually. The bottom line is that these are scary numbers.
Our goal here at River Oaks ER is that you don’t grace our doors with another one of these statistics. In an effort to keep our Houston community patients upright and healthy, we’ve pulled together a list of 10 tips to prevent your elderly loved one from slipping and falling.
While every person’s needs are different, these 10 tips represent some good starting points for the care and protection of the older loved ones in your life.
1. Get fall fit
The National Council on Aging, or NCOA, heavily promotes programs that are proven to help the elderly avoid slips and falls in the first place. These programs range from eight-week balance-building courses to months-long courses that are designed to help seniors cope more effectively at home with their physical limitations.
Through education efforts, prevention techniques, and an emphasis on fitness, the NCOA is an incredible resource to help your loved one stay safe.
2. Clear the clutter
One of the biggest culprits behind slips and falls is clutter around the house. Make sure your loved one’s living area is free from things strewn across the floor or, worse still, perched on the stairs. If your loved one is living with you and you have children, you need to be extra vigilant about toys lying around.
3. Throw away throw rugs
Throw rugs add a great accent to a room, but they’re downright dangerous for people with limited mobility. Shuffling feet easily kick up the corners of these rugs, and they can also bunch up, creating a tripping hazard.
4. Bathroom check
A bathroom can be a hazardous place for those who are quick on their feet thanks to slippery, wet tubs and tiles. If you view it from a senior’s perspective, a bathroom can be a downright nightmare. Make sure you have plenty of non-slip mats on the floor and in the tub or shower. Install hand bars to allow your loved one to easily get in and out of the tub. And check out medical supply stores for shower chairs and handheld showers, which make cleaning up much easier and safer.
5. Eyes and ears
As your loved one ages, it’s more important than ever to keep up with annual eye exams and checkups for their hearing. Poor eyesight is one of the main drivers behind slips and falls.
6. Check your steps
Whether inside or out, equip your stairs with good treads and make sure the banister is wide enough to hold onto with arthritic hands. Also, make sure all banisters are stable since they notoriously loosen over time.
7. Light it up
Good lighting can make all the difference since vision in low light deteriorates exponentially with age. Perhaps install motion sensor lights in key areas, such as hallways, bathrooms, and stairs.
8. A little rearranging
If your loved one needs assistance to move about, like a cane or a walker, go through their living space and clear a wide swath from one room to the next. A room full of furniture creates a maze, increasing the chances your loved one may fall while turning an unnecessary corner.
9. Upgrade the footwear
What your loved one wears on their feet can make all the difference. Make sure they’re equipped with the right footwear at all times, with enough grip to help them navigate almost any surface. And don’t forget good, grippy slippers for evenings and mornings.
10. Have an alert
There are many systems, including necklaces, that act as alert services should your loved one fall when no one is around. These companies send the necessary medical personnel and get in touch with you right away.
Before you get started, be sure to discuss all of these changes with your loved one. While they may not be as spry as they once were, your loved one’s brain is probably still highly active. If they understand the dangers of slips and falls, they may have their own suggestions to improve their safety.
If your loved one does slip or fall, River Oaks ER is open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. Please don’t hesitate to come in for expert care.