Slip and Fall – Fall Prevention for Elderly Parents
According to the CDC, 1/3 adults over the age of 65 fall every year, leading to lengthy hospitalizations, permanent disabilities, and even death. Between 20% to 30% of elderly adults who fall experience anything from bruises to head trauma.
Falls in the elderly are responsible for traumatic brain injuries as well as fractures of the hip, spine, and pelvis, severely limiting mobility, capabilities, range of motion and quality of life.
The CDC recommends taking a proactive approach to protecting seniors and the elderly from falls that include but are not limited to:
Educating the elderly as well as caregivers regarding the potential damage a slip and fall may cause as well as how to fall-proof an elderly person's home may help reduce the risk of injury or death. One of the most effective methods of addressing fall prevention might be for children of elderly parents or caregivers of an elderly individual to enter each room of a house and determine the potential for hazards for those who may be suffering from poor eyesight, coordination or stability.
For example, is lighting in the bedroom bright enough? Is there a night light available to guide an elderly parent from a bedroom to the bathroom safely? If warranted, are non-skid rugs placed on the bathroom floor in front of the bathtub, toilet and sink?
Go through each room of the house: living room, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom and remove excess furniture that impedes easy access to other rooms. Are spaces around furniture large enough to accommodate a cane, walker or wheelchair safely? Are electrical cords tucked safely out of the way?
Secure throw rugs to floors or carpets to possibly prevent shoes from catching under the edges and causing a slip and fall. Make sure light switches are accessible and that bedside or chair lamps are within reach and won't tip over.
In the bathroom, install grab bars on the outside and inside of tub or shower enclosures. Grab bars or rails placed near the toilet may also help provide stability and security.
Caregivers should remember that all grab bars should be anchored to a wall stud to ensure strength and stability. (Have a qualified installer take a look and recommend placement. A qualified installer may also be able to test the effectiveness of the weight bearing bars.) Grab bars are often used to help with balance, but if an elderly parent requires one to possibly prevent a slip and fall, caregivers want to make sure that it does its job and won't pull out of the wall, resulting in a potentially devastating injury.
Preventing falls for the elderly around town could require extra diligence and attention to detail. Caregivers escorting an elderly parent to the grocery store, the doctor's office, or a shopping mall as an example, may need to carefully assess entrances and exits of such facilities. Are door ledges or walkways safe for an elderly person to use a cane, walker or wheelchair without slipping? Are wheelchair ramps wide enough to permit easy access?
Uneven floors may cause tripping or fall hazards for many elderly. It's might be a good idea for caregivers to become familiar with common destinations utilized by loved ones or family members in order to gauge safety as well as determine ways to reduce fall risks or hazards in such environments.
When entering or exiting vehicles in any weather condition, have the elderly person wait until the caregiver can help him or her out of the vehicle. Walkers should be stabilized by the caregiver while the elderly person is rising from the vehicle.
Wheelchairs should be positioned close by and wheels locked before transferring an elderly person from vehicle to wheelchair or vice verse.
In any environment, look at a situation through the eyes of an elderly person to determine safe or unsafe environments determined by an elderly person's condition, strength and abilities.
After all, fall prevention is everyone's responsibility.
When it comes to slip and fall issues, fall prevention should be discussed with a qualified professional before attempting to install safety equipment or to change in any way the home of an elderly parent. There are local safety specialist's that can help with issues of safety for your senior.