Older people are more vulnerable and prone to suffering from a fall, both at home and whilst they are out and about. According to the NHS, around one in three adults over 65 who live at home will have at least one fall a year, and about half of these will have more frequent falls.
Last month it was said in this BBC news article that; “falls among the elderly cause the vast majority of hip fractures and cost the NHS around £1bn each year.” Older people, especially those with a medical condition, are most at risk of having a fall – but fortunately there are a few ways to prevent falls at home.
You may have seen our top tips for older people to follow when it comes to staying safe at home. Today’s article focuses on how you can prevent falls at home, with five of our top tips.
Assess your Home
The first thing you should do in order to try and prevent falls at home, is to assess your surroundings. The main reasons for a fall include balance issues, muscle weakness and sensory problems, so you need to look out for items that may have an affect on these.
One conclusion you may come to is that you need to downsize or move into a bungalow. This will take away the need to travel up and down staircases, as well as reducing the number of rooms that you need to look after and walk between.
Your assessment should be done room by room. Take a look inside and try to point out any tripping hazards or items that are in difficult places to reach. Head to the bathroom and think about whether or not you struggle getting in and out of the bath tub. It may be a good idea to install grab rails around the bath tub and next to the toilet, in order to aid you whilst you’re using these facilities.
If you’re unsure whilst looking around your home, ask a family member or neighbour to come and help you. Some health professionals may also be able to arrange for somebody to come round and assess your home for you.
Remove Hazards & Take Action
Once you have completed a home assessment, you can then begin removing any hazards around the home. Removing these hazards will automatically help to prevent falls at home, and in most cases will be very easy to remove.
Now is the time to remove those rugs which can cause you to trip, to fix the carpets which are riding-up around the edges and to tidy the floors around your home – removing any items which you may not notice whilst walking around at night.
Head into the kitchen with a family member and ask them to re-organise your cupboards so that the items you use the most are within an easy reach. Overstretching or climbing onto the kitchen sides can be a huge risk.
Back in the bathroom it’s time to install some grab rails to assist you. You could also fit a rubber bath mat on the floor of your bath tub, or a shower mat if you use a separate shower unit. Remember that if you’re struggling around your current home, it may be time to move house.
Help with Mobility
If you do struggle with your balance and general mobility around your home, there are plenty of products which you can buy to help you remain in your current home. The main obstacle for some older people is the staircase.
Getting up and down those stairs can be a real pain. Whether your muscles are weak or you simply get out of breath, walking up stairs can be dangerous. Installing a stairlift is the perfect solution. These devices allow you to take a comfy seat, press a single button and relax as the lift carries you up and down the stairs.
If you feel like a stairlift is too extreme, we would advise that you purchase a walking aid to help you move around your home.
In the bathroom there are plenty of aids to help you with mobility, such as bath steps, shower seats and a raised toilet seat. All of these items ensure that moving into position in the bathroom is much simpler and puts less strain on your body.
Assistive technology can help to prevent falls at home. Certain devices allow you to set reminders for medication, so there is no need to rush into the kitchen when you think you’ve missed your time slot.
Other devices allow you to attach cameras to your front door, with the footage coming through to your mobile device. This means that if you don’t know the caller, you don’t have to get up and rush to the front door in order to answer them.
A stove alarm is a battery-operated device which is:
Attached beneath your gas or electric cooker hood with magnets, or to the wall or cooker panel with screws. It learns how you use the cooker (to prevent false alarms) and sounds an alarm when the cooker temperatures rise, before a fire ignites.” – Which?
A perfect bit of assistive technology for the bathroom is the Magiplug. This device uses a pressure-activated system, which means when your bath reaches a certain depth, pressure plate in the plug opens to drain the excess water. It also changes colour when its too hot, which means you won’t jump suddenly when to attempt to step into the bath tub.
It may be that right now you’re medically well and don’t struggle with your balance around the home. However things may change during the next 10 years or so, which means you should start thinking about this now in order to prevent falls at home in the future.
Is your home fit for purpose right now or are there things that need to be done in order to prepare you for older life? We advise that you carry out a home check like the one previously mentioned in this article.
Even though the changes are necessarily needed right now, they could be in a few years time. Have a think about your current lifestyle, are you fit and active and do you eat healthily? If you do, the chances of coming down with a medical condition such as diabetes and heart disease are reduced.
Prevent Falls At Home with a Personal Alarm
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