Staying safe at home: tips to reduce the risk of falls
According to the AARP, around 71 percent of people over the age of 45 prefer to stay in their homes as they age rather than moving to long-term care. As we age, however, it is common to experience declines in our physical abilities. This can result in falls and possibly severe or fatal injuries. Taking precautions to reduce the risk of falls will increase one’s ability to remain at home.
In general, move furniture to create clear walking paths; remove clutter from stairs and landings; repair broken, uneven steps, and loose handrails; keep exterior stairs and walkways clear; keep rock salt by each door to remove winter ice; install a shelf and hooks inside the door for keys, coats, handbags, and other items.
In the living room, make sure you can get into and out of your lounge chair with ease and replace glass table tops with wood so they are easier to see and less fragile.
Move the kitchen items you use most often to lower shelves in the cabinets to reduce the need for a stool; replace heavy dishes and pots with lighter ones; use a stool with a high, sturdy handrail (never step on a chair or cupboard shelf); create a sitting area for food preparation.
Place nonslip mats or self-sticking strips in the tub or shower floor; keep soap, shampoo and towel in easy reach from the tub or shower stall; install sturdy grab bars (never use towel racks for support; and remove bath rugs.
In the bedroom, keep your cane or walker next to the bed at night, with flat slip-on shoes (avoid slippers); keep a telephone, lamp, flashlight and eyeglasses within easy reach of the bed; make sure the bed is a comfortable height for getting in and out; keep a portable toilet or urinal near the bed if you have difficulty getting to the bathroom; and sit down when dressing.
Tape down all electrical cords; apply nonslip mats or double-stick tape to backs of throw rugs; repair carpet and flooring that is loose, torn or curling at the edges; clean spills and drips immediately; and put nightlights in the bedroom, hallway and bathroom (also stairs and kitchen, if needed).
A few last words for safe and healthy living: wear flat, sturdy, nonslip shoes both indoors and outdoors; exercise regularly to improve strength, balance and coordination; ask your doctor for alternatives to medications that cause dizziness, drowsiness, or other unpleasant side-effects; have regular eye exams; keep emergency numbers in large print near each phone; get a medical alert device; and, if you live alone, have someone check on you daily.
Judith Eugene is a native of Cleveland Heights who provides life-enrichment classes and activities for senior adults and those with physical and mental challenges through www.LovingHandsGroup.com. She can be reached at 216-408-5578 or Judith@LovingHandsGroup.com.