Dangerous Fall Risks - Help Remove Them

Ah Gee, Grandma. I just wanted to help you reduce falling hazards in your home.

Source

Falling: A Clear and Present Danger for Older Seniors

We don't fall because we get older. It is not an automatic condition or outcome of aging. We fall because we lack strength or agility, we may be dizzy, or we may trip over something. These causes of falls are known as risk factors. As the number of risk factors rise, so does the potential for falling.

Although no single risk factor causes all falls, the greater the number of risk factors to which an individual is exposed, the greater the probability of a fall and the more likely the results of the fall will be quite serious and thereby threaten the person's independence. Most seniors, even elderly seniors, want to remain in the home they are in now. So it is extremely important to remove as many fall risk factors in the home as possible.


In hospital after a fall
In hospital after a fall | Source
In nursing home after a fall
In nursing home after a fall | Source

When an elderly person falls it can result in injuries that are much more serious than injuries suffered by young people. A hip fracture or a head injury in a senior can easily lead to death within a few months.


Seniors know that falling is dangerous for them. As a result, many seniors have a serious fear of falling.


If an injury from a fall is serious it can lead to more daily living care services being required and possibly require a change in where an elderly person lives. Most seniors want to live in their own home (house or apartment) for as long as possible.


A serious injury from a fall can mean a person is wheelchair bound for many months or the rest of life. And such an injury can mean moving from a house or apartment to an assisted living care facility, maybe even a nursing home.


Most falls occur in the home. This is why it is important to ensure that any risks that could lead to a fall are removed or reduced.


Source
Use a clipboard to help you use the Guide to Removing Fall Risk Hazards in the Home
Use a clipboard to help you use the Guide to Removing Fall Risk Hazards in the Home | Source
Check off each item as you go through the Guide
Check off each item as you go through the Guide | Source
Measure sizes where you may wish to add a Safety Aid
Measure sizes where you may wish to add a Safety Aid | Source
Use a sticky note to mark places where you want to remove something or install something on your next visit
Use a sticky note to mark places where you want to remove something or install something on your next visit | Source

Benefits of this Guide for You and Your Favorite Senior


  • You will have an organized Guide to follow making your time on the job more effective.
  • You will be able to remove some fall hazards immediately.
  • You will know exactly what equipment you want to install on the next trip.
  • You will know how to implement these changes in the most cost-effective way.
  • You will know your favorite senior is much safer in their own home now.
  • You will know your favorite senior will sleep better, live better and feel secure knowing a number of fall risks have been removed from their home.


Supplies

  • Note book or clip pad and paper
  • Pen or pencil
  • Measuring tape
  • Post-it notes


Time required
– 3 hrs or less

Take a morning or an afternoon to help the senior in your life look carefully around their home and make a note of any changes or adjustments needed to make and keep their home safe.


Items you may want to buy:

  • Non-slip floor wax
  • Double-sided tape for loose carpets


Items you may want to buy:

  • Light bulbs:
    You can never have too many spare light bulbs. Energy-savers are the best.
  • Materials to repair steps, if required:
    If your senior's steps are wood, you may want to add some non-slip treads.
  • Additional handrail(s):
    If there is only one hand rail, you may want to install another. If you are installing yourself, make sure the handrail is not too far from the wall. You do not want someone able to fit their arm between the wall and the handrail. It could be broken so use care.

Drive Medical Deluxe Swivel Seat Cushion, Gray
Drive Medical Deluxe Swivel Seat Cushion, Gray

Swivel cushion for car or dining chair or even for a stool in the kitchen.

 

Assistive Devices to consider:

  • Easy-lift chair:
    Easy lift chair in assorted colors - a great gift for your favorite senior.

  • Swivel cushion for favorite chair in dining room, kitchen or car:
    Swivel seat allows individual to turn up to 360 degrees. Makes getting on or off a seat or chair much easier. Durable and stable, with a 300 lb. Weight Capacity.

  • Cord Protector:
    If it is not possible to keep cords entirely out of the way, a cord protector could be used to keep cords tight against the floor (wall). The cord protector should not be used in walkways, hallways or high traffic areas.

Assistive Devices to consider:

  • Reacher:
    Easy to use, picks up items from floor, has a magnetic tip for picking up things like keys, picks up light weight items from high shelf. Light weight. Durable. Comfortable in the hand.

  • Lazysusan/cabinet turntable:
    Non-skid cabinet turntables come in multiple sizes to fit every need. Outer rim prevents items from falling off. Durable, non-skid pad helps
    hold items in place, and is easy to clean.

  • Step stool with support rail:
    Reach up to higher shelves without concern of losing your balance.

  • Cane with seat:
    With an attractive matte bronze finish, the Tri-Seat features a foam grip handle, comfortable formed seat and is fully adjustable. Easily folds up for use as a cane. May be all you need when doing dishes or stirring a pot on the stove.


  • Island safety pole:
    The ultimate in Kitchen (or bathroom) safety and convenience. 360 degrees of support! User weight Capacity: 300lbs/136kg - Tray weight capacity: 15lbs/7kg. Free Shipping.

Assistive Devices to consider:

  • Lantern or flashlight for when power goes out:
    Three modes of lighting: high, low, and strobe. Easy to find in the dark -- small green light indicates where it is when not on.

  • Bed lift bar:
    The subtle bed lift bar is strong and handy while not looking like hospital equipment. Holds items like pens, paper, books. remote control.

  • Bed table:
    This sturdy and attractive table adjusts to the perfect height and tilt to make it perfect for reading or writing in bed. Add a Kindle for maximum enjoyment.

  • Eyeglass holder for bedside:
    The plush lined eyeglass holder comes in tapestry or black and is perfect for holding glasses without scratching them. Easy access in the middle of the night.


Assistive Devices to consider:

  • Non-slip bath mat for inside tub or shower is vitally important if you are standing in a tub or shower.
  • Memory foam bath mat for outside tub or shower is comfortable and safe with a non-skid backing.
  • Hand-held shower with 2 mounts allows you to use shower standing up or sitting down in tub/shower.
  • Grab bars should be installed by a professional, or ensure that the bars are firmly mounted. Grab bars must be mounted so that they do not come away from walls or tub and should be the right height for a senior.
  • Bath/shower seat or transfer seat. Using either a seat inside the tub or a transfer seat is ideal if you have difficulty getting into or out of the tub/shower. A transfer seat should be facing the taps so ensure the transfer part is on the correct side of the seat.
  • Raised toilet seat with arms will make getting on or off the toilet much easier. One with arms is more comfortable and feels more secure. These are easy to clean.
  • Grab bar and alarm system for bathroom. This particular alarm system can be located in any room but is best suited to the bathroom. This should not be the only grab bar in the tub or shower. The alarm part of the system can be removed and worn around the neck when bathing. It makes a loud noise when rung to alert neighbors. It is not part of a call alert system.

Items you may want to buy:

  • Small bench for entrance way:
    Having a small bench with room for shoes and boots where you can put on and take off indoor and outdoor footwear is perfect.

  • Non-slip mat or runner for inside:
    This non-slip mat is a good idea for your entrance way or could be used in kitchen or by the bed.

  • No-slip ice & snow carpet for outside:
    When the snow has finished falling these outdoor carpets are ideal for slippery steps or walkways.


Important Things to Remember


  1. Listen to the senior you are helping.
    • If you listen very carefully to what your senior is saying, you will be able to much better understand what needs they have and what is important to them.

  2. Take extra time to "visit" with them.
    • Grandma may want to make a pot of tea and visit with you. Try not to be too impatient with her because you want to get on with the important project.

  3. Take time to understand any concerns they may have about your making changes in their home.
    • Some seniors do not like changes. It is a disruption and can confuse or overwhelm them.

    • Some seniors may not want you to go to a lot of trouble on their behalf. They may say that things are just fine the way they are now: "If it was good enough for Grandpa, it is good enough for me."

    • Some seniors absolutely do not want their home to look like a hospital room. So you will need to reinforce the "spa-like" qualities of items you think should be installed.

    • Some seniors do not have a lot of money and are concerned that what you may want to do for them will cost way too much. Perhaps the family wants to contribute to some assistive devices. Ensure them that they will have the final say about anything you suggest.

  4. Ask them to show you things like:
    • how they get in and out of bed
    • how they get in and out of the bath/shower
    • how they get in and out of their easy chair
    • how they work in their kitchen

  5. Ask them if they have any concerns about falling in their home.
    They may say they have no concerns at all. If this is what they say, ask them if they have difficulty standing in the kitchen when making their dinner. Or ask them, if they have difficulty getting into and out of the tub. What they say to these questions will give you very good information about what you will want to include in your recommendations.


© 2012 Marilyn Alexander

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Comments 22 comments

always exploring profile image

always exploring 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

This is a great informative article. I just had a friend fall at my house this week, he slipped on a throw rug, I have taken all throws up. Thank you for sharing..


Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 4 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico Author

Good to see you always exploring! Sorry about your friend slipping on a throw rug. It easier to happen than we realize. Thanks for your comment and your read.


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

What an excellent look at how to help seniors in their homes! Reducing the risk of falls is so important and you offer a great guideline with super tips in this hub. Thanks so much for putting this together for everyone. Seniors can recognize needs they may have by reading this, and caregivers have a fantastic resource in it.


Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 4 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico Author

RTalloni, thank you for your comments. I do hope it will help seniors realize there is so much out there to help them live more comfortably and with fewer risks of falling. I appreciate your dropping by.


MYWIKISTEP 4 years ago

These are some great guidelines Maralexa.

We should always care for those who cared for us.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 4 years ago from Oakley, CA

You've pointed out some excellent tips. 3-way switches on stairs are a must--I believe it is even required by building codes these days. However, the so-called 'energy saving' light bulbs are not the best for seniors--they do NOT give off as much light as the propaganda claims they do. Senior eyes need a lot of BRIGHT light. Energy-savers are considerably more dim.

That kitchen pole sure gives a new meaning to "pole dancing!" (I couldn't resist...) Aides to get in and out of the bath are also a wise idea.

However, there is not much help for me--a natural-born klutz! ;-) I'm more than capable of tripping over my own shadow. :-) LOL

We have 6 cats--a constant tripping hazard--on the other hand--their antics keep us sane, and that, we feel, is equally important. Our pets are not going anywhere.

But we do already have our epitaphs chosen: "The cats got 'em." ;-)

Sorry, I guess it's late--and I'm getting slap-happy. I do not mean to minimize the importance of safety for anyone. This is a well-done and thorough article.

Voted up, interesting, useful and shared.


2patricias profile image

2patricias 4 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

This is a very useful hub. I would advice anyone with elderly relatives to take a good look at hazards around the house - ideally before an accident happened. About 18 months ago an elderly relative of mine fell while getting into bed and suffered serious injuries. Nobody had looked at her bedroom - we were all too respectful of her privacy. After the fall, my sister-in-law went to change the bed and said the whole room was simply a disaster waiting to happen.

However, my sister-in-law also wanted to make alterations to the bathroom to improve safety - all changes were adamantly vetoed.

So, a lot of tact may be needed.


Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 4 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico Author

Mywikistep - I do agree with you. We should let our senior loved ones know they are not alone. And wherever we can we should help make their life safe.

Thanks for reading and commenting.


Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 4 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico Author

2patricias. Being respectful of a senior's privacy is a good thing to show. But, I suggest that you then follow-up with some supportive advice, as you did. Who vetoed the bathroom safety changes? Your elderly relative? So yes, tact is needed. But firm, loving tact.

Thanks so much for reading and making valuable comments.


Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 4 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico Author

"Pole dancing"!!! - How delightful!

My dear DzyMsLizzy - how good to hear from you! Your comments are very much appreciated. And, I can't help but agree with you regarding your cats. Their value certainly outweighs their danger of getting under foot.

You are correct about lighting -- seniors do need lots of bright lights around. I use bright white (energy saving) lights in my kitchen. (But then, I don't use my safety pole for dancing!)

Cheers, Maralexa


Bedbugabscond profile image

Bedbugabscond 4 years ago from United States

Thank you for this. I am going to print it up and give it to my boss. His mom is 84, and she had a clutter problem. There were boxes from floor to ceiling on the way to the laundry room. My boss was afraid they would fall on her and has spend the past 3 weeks deculutering. He has been focusing so much on declutering, but I think he can now focus on mats, carpet and the bathroom. Thanks! Voted up!


Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 4 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico Author

What your very kind boss has done over the past 3 weeks is exactly what we need to help seniors declutter, remove fall risks so our elderly relatives will not fall or continue to face the fear of falling.

Congratulations to your boss!

Thanks for this wonderful comment. I appreciate your taking the time.


Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

What a very important topic - your thorough advice should help many people. Just this morning, the dear, sweet mother of some good friends fell in her bedroom. At 90, she is very fragile, so of course it worried all of us. Preventing falls is so much more effective than treating them after the fact.

Voted up and up!


Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 4 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico Author

Thanks so much for your comments Marcy. It is a little scarey how easy it is for an elderly person to fall. I hope she is alright. Many of these suggestions came from my experience of caring for my elderly mother (from 88 to 93 years old). I hope all people with older parents or grandparents will read and consider the points in this hub.

Cheers, Maralexa


Bedbugabscond profile image

Bedbugabscond 4 years ago from United States

Epps, not just my boss is having issues. My good friends mother broke her hip. She is home now but is being very combative. They decluttered and rearranged her house so she could get around with her walker. They left her alone for 4 hours and when they got back she had move the furniture! Do you have a hub about how to deal with a combative parent?


Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 4 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico Author

Oh my goodness! What a wonderful, independent, I-will-have-things-the-way-I-want-them woman! I know everyone really wants to help her but maybe she is more comfortable with her furniture the way it was. How an older person with a mending hip could move furniture is beyond me. But I think it would be best to let her have her own way. This is how she is demonstrating her need for independence. She has lost some of it by breaking her hip. Let her keep her home the way it is now. If really needed, changes can be made a little later on.

Bless her. Thanks for your commenting again.


Bedbugabscond profile image

Bedbugabscond 4 years ago from United States

From what I understand social services somehow got involved and was reluctant to let her go home (I don't know all the details). They are worried if she gets hurt again she will be forced into a home. No one wants that. I feel bad for my friend, I don't know what to tell him. She is a strong woman, and always have been. One thing I always admired her for. I just hope it doesn't get her int trouble.


Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 4 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico Author

Dear Bedbugabcond. I know you are concerned for your friend and his mother. Perhaps he could speak with social services and learn what more he may be able to do for his mother now that she is home. His mother maybe could use a few extra things while she is recuperating. Meals on Wheels, light housekeeping including laundry, ordering groceries by phone, a medical call device for when she is showering, maybe a bath seat.

When my mother came to live with me she had just broken her hip. Although I was giving her a great deal of care I was also working. The "meals-on-wheels" (delivered frozen) she received allowed her to make a good lunch or an early dinner when I was late. She used her walker all the time in the house so she could do many of these things for herself.

One of the best things I did was to compliment my mother on how strong she was and how capable. I told her that I wanted to see she had some things that would assist her keep her independence. But, while she was mending, I wanted her to go more slowly to ensure she didn't fall again.

If your friend lives with his mother, or someone else does, one of the best things that they can do is listen to what this wonderful woman wants to say. Listen to her stories and hear what is important to her.

And, keep supporting your friend.

Blessings, Maralexa


Sueswan 4 years ago

Hi Maralexa

Bless you for publishing this hub.

Take Care :)


Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 4 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico Author

Thanks Sueswan. Always good to see you. Thanks for your comments.


kj force profile image

kj force 3 years ago from Florida

Maralexa..Great informative, interesting and very helpful hub..I am one of those who must use a walker..mine is the aluminum( easy fold up ) one everybody puts tennis balls on..however I put wheels on mine and a wicker basket fitted with velcro straps

( designed by me ) I can keep a bottle of h20/cell phone/or transport anything in the basket..at night a flashlight. It has given me amore independence /freedom..also important and usually no on thinks of this..SHOES..too many try to wear slippers or flip flops/sliders..and NO barefeet ever..being retired from the medical field, I have seen my share of falls,trips..be xtra careful if there are pets in the house..another hazard at times...organization..keep life simple...thank you for sharing and bringing this subject to attention..have a great night...


Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 3 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico Author

What great feedback! Thanks kj. Did you actually buy an aluminum walker without wheels, then put wheels on it? Was this because you could not find a rollator light enough or narrow enough (to fit easily through doors) that already had wheels? And, how clever of you to design your own basket - that is important.

Thank you for the tips about carrying a flashlight at night - with your cell phone and water. And thanks VERY much for your tips about shoes. I understand how dangerous slippers and bare feet can be with a walker or rollator.

I am truly happy you enjoy greater independence with your walker. I want to keep my independence as long as possible and will not hesitate to use a walker and rollator. My biggest problem is keeping things simple!

I truly appreciate your comments. Thanks for taking the time to read this article.

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