Aging in place and living independently for as long as physically possible is a priority for many elderly Canadians’. But statistically, as seniors grow older their risk of falling increases, the seriousness of injuries escalates, and mortality due to falls increases to the extent that a fall and the ensuing medical complications among 90+ year olds can frequently result in death. So, if you are a “Baby Boomer” with elderly parents, or you or your spouse have balance issues, keep reading…. this article will provide the first steps toward a safer living space.
STEP 1 – De-clutter
De-cluttering spaces, adding appropriate lighting, and providing additional balance aids are crucial first steps. Rugs, furniture and other frequently used spaces should be carefully evaluated for potential tripping hazards. In fact, any space in the house or yard should be scrutinized. Rearrange or remove furniture, and ensure there is adequate space for walkers and canes. Add or enhance hand rails, particularly for climbing and descending stairs.
STEP 2 – Go to the Bathroom
We commonly frequent the lavatory several times a day for bathing, showering and using the toilet. The surfaces in a bathroom are generally hard and definitely slippery when wet.
A bathroom can be made safer when the proper assistive devises are put in place. Let’s begin by breaking down the hazardous areas in the bathroom. The floor; the bathtub; the shower and the toilet are all considered “risk centers” and will be significantly reduced by:
- Installing a customized shower or bathtub catering to the needs of the individual
- Installing grab bars close to the toilet, in showers and bathtubs (see installation)
- Using non-slip mats or treads on bathroom floors, in showers and bathtubs
STEP 3 – Get a Grip
Many falls are related to weather conditions. Our winter climate with rain, snow and ice are unavoidable. The Toronto Rehabilitation Institute advises two practical ways to reduce falls:
- Wear footwear indoors and outdoors designed for better traction, and change into running shoes when at home. Avoid socks or bare feet.
- Install easily graspable handrails on both sides of stairs. Most importantly – use them!
Staying at home is a realistic goal for many elderly Canadians who are active and can safely live independently. To successfully achieve this however, it wise to do some planning and modification to the home environment. These early steps are preventative medicine and will ensure a safer living space.
Author: Mark Beaton, Sr. VP of Marketing – BIOS Medical
- Canadian Health institute for Health Information: Slips, trips and falls: our newest data reveals causes of hospitalizations and ER visits in Canada