Focus on Senior Citizens Preventing Slips in the Home
The number of Americans ages 65 and older projected to more than double from 46 million today to over 98 million by 2060, and the 65-and-older age group’s share of the total population rising to nearly 24 percent from 15 percent, it is no wonder the term aging in place has become such a popular phrase. The definition of Aging in Place is describing a person living in the residence of their choice, for as long as they are able, as they age. This includes being able to have any services (or other support) they might need over time as their needs change.
The AARP reports consistently that people 50 and older want to stay in their homes and communities as long as possible and the aging in place trend allow people to continue to live in the comfort of their own homes, where they are generally most relaxed. The cost of aging in place is also often less than the cost of an assisted living facility or nursing home. Most importantly, these seniors are able to continue to play a part in the communities they have long called their home. However, with falls in adults aged 65 and older being the leading cause of head injuries and broken hips and falling once doubling your risk to fall again, it is extremely important to empower yourself or the senior citizen you care about to be able to continue to live the highest quality of life with proper fall prevention tactics.
The start of preventing a slip or fall within the home for a senior citizen is to perform a simple home audit. Think of nursing home or assisted living facility and all the features that are put into them to ensure the safety of the people living there. You will want a senior citizens home to emulate what these housing developments offer. Through a home audit, you will be able to understand locations that need to be improved upon in order to best allow yourself, your parent, or the elderly person whom you are working with, to live independently as long as possible through preventing slips and falls and improving quality of life throughout the aging process.
Bathrooms are the best place to start your home audit because they are the number one danger zone of the home when it comes to falls. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that about 235,000 people older than 15 visit emergency rooms each year because of bathroom-related injuries. One of the top ways to make the bathroom a safer place is to incorporate the use of non-slip tape or adhesive products, such as a non-slip bath mat or shower adhesive. With water being inevitable, also installing a grab bar in the bathtub is instrumental in avoiding an unnecessary slip. Ensuring a grip tape is placed under any bath rug to avoid slips and falls should be considered and using a nightlight or glow tape for late night bathroom usage is also an easy to incorporate feature in preventing elderly falls. Through improving and adding several features to the bathroom, you can remove much of the fear associated with falling within the home for senior citizens.
Another area of the home to pay special attention to is the kitchen. Whether you or the senior citizen you are caring for enjoys cooking regularly or not, being in the kitchen throughout the day for one reason or another is inevitable. First, cleaning the kitchen is extremely important to avoid the risk of injury. Falling due to unseen grease splatters from the stove or trying to reach the upper cabinet can easily be avoided by decluttering and moving frequently used items to lower storage areas, having a housekeeper (if the task of kitchen clean up seems daunting), implementing proper use of adhesive products and adding a non-slip step-stool within the kitchen. An adhesive company can work directly with senior citizens to discuss the most strategic places to apply non-slip mats and grip tape within the kitchen to allow functionality, but still keep the design aesthetic in place. Some of the most common areas are around the kitchen sink, refrigerator, and stove/oven areas where liquid is often present. Removing or pushing large tables and chairs out of the walkways can also be an easy and free fix in preventing elderly falls.
Living spaces throughout the home should also be reviewed in the same manner to ensure the prevention of slips and falls. When it comes to areas like the television room, bedroom, and garage several items should be considered in the home audit. By removing or moving excess furniture or garage tools such as lawn mowers and sitting chairs, installing additional lighting or glow tape (especially leading a pathway to the bathroom or garage to house entry), keeping readily used items handy (remote controls, phone, garage door opener), and fixing any uneven surfaces or ensuring those surfaces have a non-slip tape applied to them, can be simple and inexpensive ways to easily avoid a costly slip and fall accident. Also, when installing the use of wheelchair ramps to and from the garage or the entry, it is recommended to add a non-skid grit tape, similar to what you would see at a nursing home. These are generally areas that experience a lot of use and traffic, so being able to ensure they are safe will keep yourself and those who care about you resting easier.
Lastly, the home audit should include a through look at all stairs within the home, especially the top or bottom three steps of the stairs because that is generally where the most slips and falls occur. With many stair safety products on the market, it is easy to find an option that is right for your home and design aesthetic. If stairs are not carpeted (wood stairs, concrete garage stairs or uneven patio or entry way stairs) it is especially important to clean the floor surface and apply a non-slip stair tape, coat the surface with a skid resistant adhesive, or add non slip treads. Carpeted stairs can also prove unsafe due to the potential tripping hazard of a higher pile carpet or slipping on the carpet due to lack of tread from socks or nylons. Adding clear no slip tape or rubber stair treads is a great addition to carpeted stairs to prevent any slips or falls. Beyond non-slip tape and stair treads, ensuring all railings are securely in place and adding illumination on the stairs can be the best prevention methods to prevent elderly stair slips and falls.
Beyond the tips mentioned above, you can also follow these additional design principles and tactics to prevent senior citizens slipping and falling within the home.
- Accommodating canes, walkers, wheelchairs, and other aids
- Ensure cords are secured away from high-traffic areas
- Always keep cabinets and drawers closed when not in use
- Have a house shoe with tread or wear treaded socks within the home
- Clean up spills as soon as they occur
- Remove barriers, less furniture means less trip and fall hazards
- Keep your home well-lit
A senior citizens quality of life can change instantly with a slip or fall. The National Council of Aging reports that a growing number of older adults fear falling and, as a result, limit their activities and social engagements. This can result in physical decline, depression, social isolation, and feelings of helplessness. By implementing the findings of the home audit, practical lifestyle adjustments, and incorporating a falls prevention programs, the number of falls among the 65+ population can be substantially reduced. It is important to be proactive in making a home safe and reaching out to your community for help as your abilities change. It is also helpful for you or the senior citizen you care for to become acquainted with available social services and continue communication with loved ones so they are aware of your wellbeing and wishes to age in place or otherwise. Continually reviewing the home as health or mobility changes and being honest with yourself will only help you in maintaining independence for a longer period of time. Aging in place can not only benefit your wallet, with the costs of assisted living facilities and nursing homes only continuing to rise with the need, but will allow senior citizens to keep their quality of life depending on their goals. It is important to be proactive in making a home safe and reaching out to the community for help as abilities change. Most importantly, enjoy living in your own home!
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