Have you ever walked into your own home, and really stopped and looked at the fall hazards that exist? I'm guessing, probably not. But, if you have elderly family members who visit, or more importantly, live with you, that's exactly what you need to do. You'll be amazed at how many exist. Yes, I know that red and ivory throw rug is beautiful in your kitchen, and after all, it WAS on clearance...but,a I promise you that when your 87 year old father trips and breaks his hip, you're going to wish you'd listened to me! It's simple, really, just take a walk through either your house, or your parents, or both, and while you're at it, be a good neighbor and do a walk through of theirs, as well. There really shouldn't be ANY throw rugs on the floor. PERIOD. It's fine in your own home, as long as you don't have elderly visitors, and when you do, just take them up for the time that they're there. Also, look for loose wires, or cords strung across the floor. Again, a huge no-no.
The facts are simply this: If you are 55 or over, you are part of the serious, injury-vulnerable population. The good news is, you can help to prevent a fall, and also coach your loved one to do the same, by reminding them of a few key points.
1.Pay attention to, and, use all railings. Pay attention to the steps as well.
2.Travel up and down slowly and carefully.
3.Stop, Look, and Listen. This is a simple way to make sure you're "in the moment," and aware of your surroundings.
Never, ever rush. Even if your house is on fire. There is nothing worse than falling and breaking a hip, except, maybe, falling and breaking a hip while your house burns down around you.
Hire someone to come in and do a safety check of your home, or your loved one's home. I can assure you, this is money well spent. Make sure that your home is well lit. Again, because they lived through the Great Depression, many of our parents and grandparents like to conserve electricity, which is fine, but that does not mean walking around in the pitch dark.
Don't allow anyone to rearrange your furniture. You're used to things being where they are, and it will only confuse you, especially if you get up in the middle of the night and are disoriented. Keep things off of the floor such as magazine baskets, etc...and make sure that there's plenty of room to walk, and navigate a walker or wheel chair if you have one.
Until next time, Be Safe!