For someone already facing deteriorating health and mobility, falling must be avoided. Falls can lead to increased or permanent disability, so it is in the interest of all concerned that these be avoided. It is estimated that 1/3 of all people 60 years or older have bad falls each year. There is no sure way to prevent falls, but actions can be taken to reduce risk.
Many other websites recommend lifestyle changes or retraining of basic behavior, for example "consciously lift each foot off the floor." We think a better approach is to know the patient's habits and behaviors and to work around those. Here are some basic tips:
- Keep all passageways well lit. Add nightlights wherever possible. Install bulbs with high wattage. Have lamps and switches within reach.
- Be certain that all stairway materials are secure and snug, including banisters, railings, carpeting and other treads.
- Avoid the use of throw rugs and area carpets that can easily bunch up.
- Install handles to the wall near entrances, landings and first steps.
In the living room and bedroom
- Arrange furniture with wider space to move around.
- Keep extension cords to an absolute minimum. Tape or tack them to the wall.
- Install handrails along hallways and especially stairways.
In the bathroom
- Use an elevated toilet seat and/or safety rails.
- Install sturdy grab bars, never using towel racks or other inadequate materials.
- Install shower chairs or transfer benches where necessary.
- Install non-skid mats and grip decals where possible.
In the kitchen
- Make sure all spills are immediately cleaned up.
- Install nonskid rubber mats if necessary, and secure these to the floor properly.
- Arrange utensils, pots, pans, measuring cups and dishes so they are easy to reach.
Taking these precautions will also help ease your mind and decrease the likelihood of ever having to make use of the medical alarm or personal emergency response system.
See also information on fall sensors on our "features to consider" page.