Fall Prevention: 5 Steps Toward Senior Health, Happiness, & Independence

Taking comprehensive fall prevention steps is foundational in supporting seniors who want to age in place. Recommending and facilitating these seven fall prevention steps is part of what we do when engaging with prospective clients during their free in-home assessments, and we help them to create these changes once we’re hired.

Falls At Home Compromise Senior Wellbeing & Independence

The CDC reports that falls pose one of the biggest health threats to adults 65 and over and can seriously compromise a senior’s ability to live independently. 

Senior Fall Statistics

The risk of tripping or falling at home increases dramatically every year after age 65, especially if a home hasn’t been made accessible using essential fall prevention steps. These falls significantly impact victims, their spouses, and their families. 

Some alarming statistics about falls and their impacts include the following:

  • In 2020 falls in the senior population (65+) caused 36,000 fatalities, making it the leading cause of injury-related deaths for that age group.
  • Also, in 2020, emergency rooms across the nation reported more than three million (3,000,000) visits due to senior falls.
  • 20% of senior falls (one in five) cause serious injuries like broken bones or traumatic brain injuries.
  • Each year, at least 300,000 older adults are hospitalized for hip injuries. 
  • More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falls, typically due to lack of balance or stumbling sideways.

These injuries, hospitalizations, and post-op stays in acute care facilities have a detrimental effect on seniors. They are associated with increased cognitive decline, depression, and lack of will to live.

5 Essential Fall Prevention Steps

The more we can do to prevent senior falls, the better quality of life senior loved ones have. Here are seven steps to lower aging loved ones’ risk of falling.

Make sure they’re exercising regularly

Remaining in good physical shape is one of the best steps seniors can take to minimize their fall risk. Most senior falls are linked to loss of balance, mobility, strength, stamina, or from a home that is not as accessible as it should be. 

By focusing on daily exercises that increase strength, balance, and stamina seniors are less likely to lose their balance and fall or are able to prevent a hard fall. You can also speak to their physician or specialist for exercise recommendations based on their physical and health histories. 

Many seniors enjoy companionship while exercising, so consider exercising with them online, hiring a companion to exercise with them, or ensuring they have access to community senior exercise classes such as yoga, swimming, aerobics, water exercise, dancing classes, etc.

They must be well-nourished

Similarly, falls are more likely to occur when a senior is weak or has low blood sugar. Ensuring they’re adequately nourished also minimizes their risk of falling. Next time you visit, peek into the refrigerator or cupboards. Do things look bare, or is there an out-of-balance proportion between fresh, healthy foods and junky processed options? If so, it’s one of the most evident signs that your loved one needs extra support to age safely and independently at home.

Create a safe and easily accessible living space

In addition to physical or medical issues that cause a fall, most senior falls occur because their living space is no longer safely accessible. We recommend reading the AARP’s detailed instructions on creating a safe environment for aging adults. 

Some of the highlights of a safe, accessible home include:

  • Creating a single-story living space (even if that means transferring to a downstairs bedroom and bathroom)
  • Reorganize cabinets and cupboards so things used most often are the most accessible – without the need to get on a step stool or bend over to retrieve them)
  • De-clutter to minimize trip hazards. 
  • Sufficient lighting in all locations.
  • Reducing any trip hazards (build ramps where there are stairs, eliminate or carefully secure area rugs, re-route any cords or plugs in common walkways, etc.).
  • Install grab bars beside toilets and inside/outside of showers and baths (the bathroom is considered the most dangerous room in the house).
  • Replace flooring with non-slip options that are compatible with mobility aids (more on that below).
  • Ensure adequate room to move around. There should be at least 38-inches of space between objects and a wall, table, cabinet, etc., so a walker or wheelchair can maneuver easily and safely.
  • Weekly wellness checks should be put into place .
  • Consider hiring an in-home care aid to provide light housekeeping, linen changes, grocery shopping or meal preparation, or other chores/tasks that fatigue seniors.

Weekly wellness checks mean a friend, family member, or a professional companion or in-home care provider is checking in regularly to keep an eye on things and upgrade support, assistance or personal care services as needed.

Connect them with the right mobility aid(s)

Like giving up the keys to the car, seniors frequently balk at using mobility aids. This step may require several patient conversations. If your loved one balks at the idea of a cane, walker, or other type of aid, we recommend enlisting support from their general physician or favorite specialist. Their close peers (particularly one who uses mobility support) are another option if they’re willing to speak to your loved one, too.

Sometimes it’s smart to begin with the “we want you to have it available in case you need it…” rather than, “you need it,” so they feel more in control of the decision. Matching the need to the right mobility aid is essential for its success. Most seniors baby step into mobility aids, starting to use one when they’re ill, feeling weak, or recovering from a minor injury or surgery. Or perhaps they use a walking stick on hikes or a walker to maintain their strength and energy on longer outings or errands. 

Schedule assessments from in-home care agencies

It’s always better to be proactive and consult with professionals before you need care than to make a rushed decision due to a crisis. During these assessments, you’ll learn more about all of the home care services available, as well as insights into how to make their current home safer and more accessible.

There are so many ways support from a licensed in-home care agency reduces a senior’s risk of falling:

  • We provide transportation and errand-running support that preserves their energy.
  • Meal planning and preparation so easy-to-heat, healthy, delicious foods and snacks are always at the ready.
  • Exercise companionship
  • Light housekeeping (including replacing burned-out lightbulbs and cabinet organization to keep things accessible) and laundry/linen changes.
  • Help with pet care.
  • And so much more.

Having someone come a couple of times a month, once a week, or to work part- or full-time shifts means your loved one’s needs are always taken care of with complete respect for their privacy, dignity, and desire for autonomy.

Contact HomeAide Home Care For Personalized Fall Prevention Tips

Do you suspect it’s time to make your aging loved one’s home a safer space to age in place? Do you worry that your parent or grandparent will become a fall risk statistic? We are here to help in any way we can. Schedule an assessment with HomeAide Home Care or give us a call at (510) 247-1200 to share your concerns. As a private, licensed home care agency based in the Bay Area, we care for clients all over Alameda and Contra Costa County. We provide expert caregivers and 4-hour service at very affordable rates.

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