Balancing Safety with Independence
Maintaining a sense of independence is important for your elderly loved one, just as much as senior fall prevention is. The ability to make their own decisions and perform their daily activities gives them a sense of empowerment and purpose.
You want to allow your loved one as much independence as possible but you still worry about fall risk. Senior fall prevention is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic to prevent an unnecessary hospital visit caused by falling.
Here’s how to maintain a senior loved one’s wishes for independence, but also keep peace of mind for the family about their safety. Fall risk is something to never take lightly, and it’s important to have a plan in place before it becomes an emergency.
How to Fall-Proof the Home
Maintaining your senior loved one’s independence means creating a safe environment for them to accomplish their daily tasks. The better your loved one can freely move around the home, the longer they will maintain their independence. This is why fall-proofing is so important.
Below we include simple ways to improve the safety of their home.
Poor visibility is a major cause for falls. As our eyes age, they become less sensitive to light, meaning your loved one’s home should use brighter lighting to improve visibility.
To improve lighting through the house, we suggest doing the following:
- Add more lighting fixtures throughout the house.
- Plug in night lights in every room, especially bedrooms and bathrooms.
- Install motion sensors along the hallways and staircases.
- Add light switches to the top and bottom of staircases.
- Place a lightswitch next to the bed that’s within reach.
- Improve lighting near entrances, such as the front door.
- Use brighter bulbs.
Give your loved one extra stability throughout their house by installing railings to give them something to grip for strength and balance.
- Make sure there are railings on both the right and left sides of staircases or steps.
- Add a grab bar alongside the toilet. Consider using a raised toilet seat.
- Add grab bars inside and near the shower or tub. Consider using a walk-in shower to avoid stepping over the edge of a tub.
- Use a shower chair and detachable shower head. Use a non-slip pad in the shower.
- Use a bed rail to stop them from rolling out of bed, and to help them move in and out of bed.
Remove Tripping Hazards
High traffic areas through the home should be kept clean to allow your loved one to walk freely and safely. Removing clutter and tripping hazards in walkways is essential to improving the safety of one’s home.
Below are suggestions for reducing common tripping hazards in the home:
- Remove clutter from stairs.
- Remove rugs, or purchase special non-slip rugs.
- Remove coffee tables and other items that are in direct pathways.
- Add highly visible tape to the tops of stairs, so it’s easy to see the steps.
- Ensure stairs aren’t slippery by using a textured paint or grip strips on the tops of stairs.
Other Considerations to Improve Safety in the Home
If your loved one sleeps upstairs, perhaps it’s time to move downstairs. If they have to go downstairs to do laundry, is there a way to move the laundry to the main level?
Consider using a home automation tool, such as Google Home or Amazon Echo. This will allow your loved one to ask for information or help throughout their homes.
Think through other creative solutions that can help them deal with limitations and empower seniors to feel more independent.
How to Improve Your Loved One’s Independence and Strength
Here are some senior fall prevention tips that can help your loved one maintain their strength, vision, and balance to ensure they are less likely to fall or have an accident that can lead to an emergency.
Check Their Medication
Are they taking medication that makes them weak or disoriented? Talk to their doctor to see if there are alternative medications or suggestions to reduce these symptoms.
Work on Strength and Balance
Regular exercise, such as walking or Tai Chi, is invaluable for keeping your loved one’s strength and balance up. The stronger their sense of balance is, the longer they can maintain their independence.
An occupational or physical therapist can tailor exercises to your loved one’s specific needs.
Check their vision
How is their vision? If they don’t see well, perhaps it’s time for a better prescription. Are they using transition lenses? These can be problematic because they may stay tinted for too long, causing difficulties seeing once inside. Switching glasses and adding brighter lighting can improve this situation.
Elderly people should wear shoes inside and outside to support their arches and to provide a better non-slip surface. Consider purchasing special non-slip shoes and grip socks to ensure better traction while walking.
Consider a Walking Aid
A cane or a walker can be beneficial for moving around the house. Certain walkers also provide a seat to use if your senior loved one begins to feel dizzy or tired.
Keep Visiting the Doctor
Your loved one may be reluctant to attend their monthly doctor’s appointments out of fear of COVID-19. It’s important to keep seeing their doctor to closely monitor their health. Many doctors are now using virtual checkups to accommodate their patients as well.
How the Kensington Can Help
Having a thoughtful plan for senior fall prevention in the home can prevent emergencies before they happen, reducing unnecessary doctor’s visits. Providing your loved one with a safe and tidy environment will allow them to keep their independence longer.
Sometimes, fall-proofing your home isn’t enough. If your loved one begins to need more assistance, please reach out to us to see how we can help.
At The Kensington, our promise is to care for your loved one as we do our own. The Kensington Sierra Madre provides a comfortable, safe environment for your loved one to live. We offer licensed nurses on site 24/7, physical therapy, a fitness center on site, and life enrichment opportunities to not only maintain but to also strengthen your senior loved one’s independence.
To learn more about our exceptional assisted living and memory care at The Kensington Sierra Madre, click below or give us a call today for any questions. We promise to love and care for your family, as we do our own.
Additional Recommended Reading:
- Aging Parents: When to be Concerned for Their Health at Home
- The Benefits of a Caregiving Support Group
- Caregiving for Elderly Parents in Times of Stress