All Tripped Up

By Cindy Sproles

One of the most common incidents we face with aging parent are falls. Well over 70% of these falls occur within the home…the most familiar place to our parents. Not only can seniors easily break  bones from a fall but they can also die. Taking fall prevention seriously can save your parent’s life.

The primary cause for falls is environment. It’s the normal things in our homes that literally trip us up. As parents grow less steady make a round through their home.

Watch for:

*Throw rugs – Small rugs wad and roll easily beneath feet that tend to scoot. Without permanent attachment to the floor seniors can easily catch a toe or stumble over a wrinkle. Remove throw rugs from hallways, doorways, bathrooms and kitchens.

*Clutter – Clutter is a major source of unnecessary falls. Years of once fond memories become a source of acumulation. Take time to declutter senior’s homes. Remove stacks of magazines, unnecessary furniture that might block a more open walking area and small items such as foot stools. Make walkways through the home as wide and clutter free as possible. Clearing shelves of loose papers and stacks of unnecessary “stuff” allow seniors free handspace –a place to hold and steady themselves if necessary. Clear counter tops so parents do not have to reach and stretch resulting in a loss of balance and a fall.

*Medications – Unfortunately as wonderful as medications are they can sometimes cause dizziness or blurred vision especially when seniors are required to take multiple perscriptions. Always check with the doctor to verify all medications seniors are taking will work well together. Even medical records can become cluttered and physicans may not see all current medications.

*Vertigo – Aging tends to bring vertigo for some. If parents appear dizzy or unable to regain balance after standing or walking several steps seek the help of their physician. To be safe, pad sharp table corners, cabinet edges and even hutch corners in case seniors topple and fall while reaching to steady themselves. Many times vertigo will insite a sudden fear and senior’s legs will collapse or they will try to sit where they stood. Keeping walking areas clear of obsticles will help prevent major injuries.

*Pets – Pets are wonderful additions to a family for companionship but before a pet is introduced be sure aging seniors are able-bodied enough to manage the care and dodge the animal when underfoot.

Easy Fixes:

*Add a PERS unit. – A personal emergency reponse system is a simple button worn on the wrist of around the neck at all times. Should a senior fall a simple push of the button will bring almost immediate help. PERS units generally cost $29-$45 per month but the investment is well worth the life saving minutes that can be rendered in the event of an emergency.

*Add a ramp over stairs inside and outside the home. If stairs are too numerous inside many insurance companies will pay either partically or infull for the installation of a chair lift that will carry seniors safely up and down stairs. Check with their physician and secure a perscription for this item.

*Install indoor hand rails, especially in bathrooms. Handrails can be easily installed inside and outside tubs and showers and around toliets.

*Put a portable phone in the bathroom, bedroom, kitchen and living room. It makes good sense. When the phone rings, seniors do not have to rush to answer – one is always handy.

*Secure in-home non-medical assistance – Companies like Comfort Keepers can place well trained caregivers for as little as four hours a day to assist seniors as the need grows. Caregivers not only aid the senior but they offer a much needed respite for family members.

Don’t let your seniors “fall” victim to a stumble or trip. Make their home as safe and secure as possible.

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