As we age, we all wish to remain at home, in good health, for as long as possible. Why move when we can continue to live comfortably in a safe and familiar environment?
But in people over 65 a fall may cause serious injury necessitating hospitalization. Afterwards, will the person be able to return to his or her home?
It is true that with time we lose strength, and become less agile as our reflexes become slower. It’s important to become consciously aware and take specific precautions to prevent falls. There are many hidden traps around the house that increase the risk of falling. The bathroom is the first area to consider.
A bath or a shower?
As pleasant and relaxing as a bath may be, it is better to take a shower using a bath chair. A transfer bath bench could also be useful. This type of bench straddles the bathtub allowing a person to sit outside the tub and gently slide in, reversing the process when getting out of the tub.
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In the bathroom simple changes can greatly increase security. These include installing grab bars, eliminating obstacles, using a non-slip bath mat, avoiding bulky shower mats that can crumple, and ensuring that the shower head, hygiene products and towels are easily within reach, to avoid having to bend or stretch.
Everywhere in the home free movement must be facilitated in order to continue one’s day-to-day activities and maintain one’s energy. Lower body muscle strength is especially important. The more a person keeps his capacity to move, the more he can avoid accidents. A handrail in the hallway ensures a firm grip and helps avoid a loss of balance.
The path between the bed and the bathroom must be completely free of any obstacles and well lighted by night lights. Small rugs, stools or low tables, high door tresholds, bookshelves along the walls etc. must be avoided. The older person must be free to move around the house without bumping into any object that may cause a loss of equilibrium.
Consider your pets
Is your favourite pet always hanging around you? A cat or dog wanting to be petted brings a lot of joy but unfortunately can also increase the risk of falling. It is not always easy, but a pet must be taught not to come near you as you walk around the house. Some have suggested they wear phosphorescent collars during the night.
Mind the stairs!
Stairs represent another dangerous area in the home. A solid ramp without empty spaces along the walls, at the right height, is absolutely indispensible. The stairs must be skid-proof and if needed, non-slip strips should be installed.
Equipment to prevent falls
A cane is the simplest and popular walking aid. It allows for a third point of support, preventing a loss of balance while walking.
Other equipment, such as a scooter or a walker, can ensure the additional physical support needed by a person in the process of losing their autonomy.
A height-adjustable electric bed adapted to the physical size of the person will facilitate getting in and out of the bed.
For more information visit www.espacemedic.com