One of the most devastating things that can happen to an elderly person is a fall. Even a healthy person, no matter his or her age, can suddenly slip and fall –and life can then be VERY different.
Many times, a senior who slips and falls can go from being healthy and independent to someone with little mobility requiring a great deal of assistance. A loss of independence can alter both their life and their personality. Because of this, it becomes of paramount importance to put measures in place that can help prevent falls.
While every fall cannot be prevented, there are steps you can take and things you can do that will dramatically reduce the likelihood of such a fall happening for your elderly loved one. Because many of these falls take place at night, it becomes even more critical to know how to prevent falls.
Here are four ways you can prevent falls and eliminate dangers in your loved one’s home:
- Clear away the clutter. This is the biggest problem that hinders movement and can cause a fall. While daylight can illuminate the problem, an elderly person getting out of bed to go to the bathroom at night may not remember where everything is placed or be able to see obstacles in their path. Removing all unnecessary clutter, especially on the floor, can greatly reduce the danger of falling in the dark. You should also remove newspapers, toys, magazines from counters, and secure loose phone or lamp cords that can also cause falls for the elderly if they are unseen. In addition, carpets and mats on the floor that are loose, have bulges, or curled ends need to be removed or replaced.
- Make it safe to move. There are many products that can help with safety at nighttime. Non-skid mats can be placed from the bed into the bathroom to make a safer path for walking. Motion sensor lights can be timed to come on at night, illuminating a path and cutting down on the confusion and dizziness that can occur with nighttime rising. In addition, the appropriate bars and railings can be installed so that your loved one can assist themselves to a sitting position. It can also be helpful to encourage them to wait a moment and make sure they are feeling steady before standing.
- Secure your footing. It can also help reduce the chance of falling if your loved one has secure footing. This is because bare feet can be slick and provide less traction on floors. Socks or slippers with traction can be worn or placed by the bedside, to help steady someone when they get up in the night. If your loved one needs to use a cane or other walking assistance device, it should be placed conveniently near the bed to assist when they need to get up in the night.
- Provide monitoring if the need is there. While most seniors are able to live independent lives, there are some that need constant monitoring. If your elderly parent (or patient) falls into this category, there are alarms that can be installed that notify nighttime caregivers if someone is arising from their bed. This way hands-on care can be given if needed and the risk of falls is greatly reduced.
For more information about keeping every room in your home safer for your loved ones, join Caregiving 101 (it's FREE) and download our free Fall Prevention Guide and Home Safety Checklist.
About R.O.S Therapy Systems: R.O.S. Therapy Systems began as a backyard project in 2010. Scott Silknitter was searching for tools to help his mother care for his father, Roger Owen Silknitter, during a 25-year fight with Parkinson’s disease and dementia. That project became a personal mission to help all family caregivers. From family caregiver training and activity books to mobile apps to activity systems, R.O.S. has grown to become a single-source provider of informational “how to’s” and a growing provider of adaptive tools for the millions of husbands, wives, children, and family members that become caregivers.
Common sense advice and instruction based on proven principles of communication, engagement, and daily living are the heart of everything R.O.S. offers for family caregivers. Improving quality of life for caregivers is our mission, and designing everything for a family caregiver struggling with a loved one is the starting point. Whether it is dementia, diabetes, Parkinson’s, ALS, stroke, visual impairment, developmental disabilities, or any other issue that forces someone to care for a loved one, R.O.S. and its Caregiving 101 program are here to help.