When caring for loved ones in their later years, you may be tempted to insist on doing everything for them, so they don’t have to move around too much and to avoid the potential injury due to a fall. However, we all need to stay mobile; it’s especially good for senior health. There are science-backed reasons why seniors should try to be as active as possible. There are also good reasons to be concerned about your loved ones injuring themselves. Allow seniors the benefits of activity while you protect them from falls.
A Clear Path
Your first move may be to clear the living area of potential obstacles. This should include anything that might make your loved one nervous when they pass, like a wobbly table holding a stack of books. Designate a pathway between their favorite chair or bedroom and the important areas like the bathroom, kitchen and the door to the outside.
The exterior can be the most dangerous, especially if there is a cement driveway to negotiate. You may need to examine the area for potential rough spots and look for ways of making the area around your house safer.
Clean and Well Lit
Seniors may have problems with their vision. Good lighting will help with their ability to see as well as their confidence in being able navigate their surroundings. Make sure the area where they will be walking is well-lit. You may even consider giving them a small, LED flashlight. Some walking canes come with a light attached. Some smart phones have a “flashlight” mode they can use for additional illumination.
Consider swapping out old light-switch covers with those that glow-in-the-dark. If you or an older loved one has to rise in the middle of the night to head to the bathroom, the new cover will make the switch easier to locate.
Some advocate moving light switches to a location where they are more easily accessed. However, if someone has been living in a house for a long time, they may be used to the switch in the position where it has always been. The move might make things worse.
While some seniors may balk at not being able to do things the way they always have, they may welcome new additions to the home if it helps them be more independent. Adding safety rails to walls, especially on staircases, should allow seniors greater safety.
Rails near the tub and in and around the shower and toilet will also provide additional safety, especially on slick surfaces. Your loved one may appreciate the privacy benefit of being able to get around in the bathroom without your assistance.
The National Council on Aging notes that every 11 seconds, an older adult receives treatment in the emergency room for a fall. These falls can result in injuries requiring hospitalization or fatalities. Even for those who appear fit beyond expectations, a fall can cause a significant injury. It is imperative that you take appropriate precautions for seniors within your care.