‘Really scares me’: Seniors are falling more often at home. Here’s how to prevent these injuries.
SPOKANE, Wash. — Fall-related deaths in Washington have gone up 37% since 2000. The epidemic isn’t getting better, especially as more seniors spend time at home. But there are ways to prevent these falls before it’s too late.
Experts say nearly 3/4 of all falls happen at home.
John and Reenie Maloney are thankful they can still live on their own and value their independence. They’re seniors who saw some major issues in their home when they had healthcare experts do a home inspection. Now, they want to make some improvements. Reenie almost went down today because of an area rug right by their door.
She’s not alone, and local trauma coordinators at MultiCare Valley and Deaconess Hospitals want to help people see red flags in their home before it’s too late. Deborah Walker and Jaclyn Numata suggest getting rid of rugs unless you supplement them with grips or sticky bottoms. This will ensure they don’t move when you walk on them.
“The reason we recommend limiting rugs altogether is because if we walk and shuffle our feet at all, we just catch the corner,” Numata said.
Just last month, over 300 people came into MultiCare’s Deaconess and Valley hospitals because of falls.
“I know what it’s like to fall, and it really scares me,” Reenie added.
You can calm those fears with some simple steps.
Here are some tips for the kitchen.
“We really want to minimize using step stools and ladders as much as possible,” Numata added.
She suggests using the lower cabinets and don’t have thick sink mats you can trip on.
The living room can also be problematic.
“We do unfortunately see falls in the living room where people can kind of crash through a glass table, so that is a concern in this room,” Numata shared while touring the Maloney’s home.
They had a large glass table in the middle of the living room but no clutter. That’s very helpful.
The hallways can also cause problems.
“One of the places that we see lots of falls is the walkway between a bedroom and a bathroom,” said Numata.
Make sure there’s lots of light in this space.
In bedrooms, don’t keep lamps far away from your bed. It’s harder to turn them on, and make sure you have enough.
These nurses recommended the Maloney’s add one more lamp on the other side of the bed. This makes sure when you wake up, you can see where you’re stepping easily.
The bathroom is also a hotspot for falls. You need three points of stable contact getting in and out of the shower.
A towel rack won’t suffice. You need sturdy handrails to really offer that extra support getting in and out of the shower. Also, consider a no-slip mat for the shower and if you want a bathmat by your sink, make sure it also grips to the floor.
These safety tips will keep seniors safe in the homes they love for longer.
“We’re so lucky that we can be in our own place,” the Maloney’s exclaimed.
If you’d like to learn more about how to fall proof your home, Aging & Long Term Care of Eastern Washington has free resources and can help you get ahead of a fall before one happens. You can see their services HERE.
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