It has been a long time since we all first saw the television ad for “Help I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” Technology has since evolved from a lifeline that a senior would wear around their neck to assure that help was just the push of a button away. Now, caregivers can equip seniors with motion sensors that can tell when a person has fallen and make the call before a button is pressed. Remarkable as these kinds of innovations can be – and there are a host of others – the best way to address the potential for older adults falling is to prevent the fall in the first place.
In this first of a three-part series, I am going to first offer a checklist of fall hazards outside the home, and this will be followed by a parallel list for indoors and a final post that is about helping assure that your older adult is in the best physical condition to avoid falls. Starting with the outdoor list:
- Make sure any stair treads are clearly visible, and remember that this has to be at night as well as during the say. You can get luminescent yellow paint or tape at most hardware stores that will stand out no matter what kind of lighting.
- Make steps slip resistant by using a paint mixture with sand or buy the adhesive strips that offer a rough upper surface. And remember that steps that may not appear slippery can become treacherous when it rains or snows.
- We cannot do much about rain, but it is really mission critical to be vigilant about removing show or ice for optimal senior care. If you have concerns about adding a lot of salt to steps, there are beet-based alternatives that are eco-friendly.
- You don’t have to leave a light on 24/7, but you should install a light sensor attached to stairway outdoor lights that will automatically turn on a light as the sun goes down. It can be helpful to wire the inside hall light to do the same so that mom or dad also can see once in the house.
- By extension, if mom or dad are still driving, consider the lighting in and around the garage for twilight or nighttime. And have a flashlight in the car for ready use in getting out of the car.
- Finally, it also can be very helpful to equip house keys with the lights that are built into the key ring. Anything that improves sight is a protection against falling. And it will just make opening the back door a lot easier.
Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Case Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about What We Do and how we can help you support your loved one.