Written by: Aaron Hall | Best Company Editorial Team
Last Updated: April 21st, 2020
Most people feel the safest when they're at home, but for seniors, the home doesn't always guarantee safety. According to the National Safety Council, falls in the home lead to 8.9 million trips to the emergency room each year. Falls can often cause fractures and trauma, and when you're elderly, a fall can increase your chance of accidental death by four times. So where in the home are those most likely to happen? Here are the facts.
Stairs and ramps
Uneven surfaces, in general, can be a hazard for the elderly who have trouble moving around. Stairs can be a hazard because falls from the top of the stairs can cause multiple injuries. In some homes, staircases and hallways can be cluttered with knickknacks or adorned with loose carpeting, which also pose a threat. Clearing stairways and hallways and securing the flooring are some effective ways to prevent risk of injury.
Some options for getting around these obstacles include getting new carpeting or installing a lift chair, but those options can be time-consuming and expensive. Consider some of these practical and less expensive options:
- Wear rubber-soled shoes
- Make sure the stairway or ramp is well-lit
- Make sure the handrail is steady and solid
- Exercise occasionally to improve balance and strength
Bathroom and kitchen
According to a study conducted by the New York Times, the most hazardous activities that happen in the bathroom are bathing, showering, and getting out of the tub or shower. The same study showed that 31 percent of head injuries occur in the bathroom. These kinds of accidents account for more than 66 percent of emergency room visits, and women are considered 72 percent more likely than men to have an injury in the bathroom. Once someone reaches the age of 65, the likelihood of injury in the bathroom increases exponentially with age.
Injuries don't happen nearly as often in the bathroom when surfaces are dry. But after a shower or a bath, the likeliness of injury spikes upward because of wet, slippery surfaces. The highest areas of danger are by the toilet and the tub. If you happen to get water on the floor, it's best to dry it as quickly as possible.
This post isn't meant to frighten or scare you, but to inform you. Even if you are not afraid of getting injured while at home, you may have a loved one who wants to live independently but has a hard time getting around. Some of the tactics mentioned above should help with making the home a little bit safer and more secure.
However, there are options available if you're looking for an added measure of protection. It's recommended to look into emergency medical devices just in case an accident happens, because after all, one in three seniors will have an accidental fall at some point. To make sure you're prepared, you can check out Medical Guardian's step-by-step guide on how to get up from a fall.
Medical alert devices are available for nearly any budget and many systems have water-resistant pendants and fall-detection sensors that are ready for use around the home.