According to the CDC, 2.5 million older people are treated in emergency rooms for fall-related injuries each year. One out of five falls leads to serious injury such as hip fractures or brain trauma. And when a loved one has fallen once, it doubles their chance of falling again. As the caregiver for an aging loved one, it is your goal to ensure that the home is a safe environment to support the aging process. This requires regular assessments of the home and conversations with your loved one’s primary care physician about wellness options. Here are a few tips to get you started on home safety when your loved one decides to age in place:
Make Home Safety Modifications
Consider safety modifications at home that can improve senior safety and lead to better peace of mind for your family. There are many changes that can be made to the home to support older adults who may be more prone to falling. They include:
- Removing loose carpeting or electrical wires that may be a tripping hazard.
- Hiring a contractor to build sturdy railings on either side of staircases in the home.
- Installing grab bars in the bathroom to help your loved one move around on their own.
- Investing in a good shower chair that can lead to better stability while bathing.
The construction process can be unsettling for your aging loved ones, so you may want to consider getting them out of the house while you take some time to make the necessary safety adjustments. Look into a short-term stay in senior housing, which can provide your loved one with a vacation-like stay in a comfortable, secure setting. It will give you peace of mind knowing that the proper care is being provided while you make the home ready for their return.
Introduce Strength and Balance Exercises
Light exercises such as yoga and Tai Chi are great for building strength and improving flexibility as we age. They are also softer on the joints than exercises like running or biking, and can provide seniors with a great way to stay in shape and improve mobility. Many senior centers will offer these classes for free throughout the week.
Talk to Primary Care Physicians
Your loved one’s physician may have ideas for supplements such as vitamin D and calcium that can help support strong bones and an active lifestyle. They may also have insight into certain medications that may be affecting your loved one’s balance or sleep. It can be a huge relief to receive an expert third-party opinion on topics of elder care.
If you’re still concerned about a loved one aging at home, consider consulting a local geriatric care manager or gerontologist, who may be able to provide more information on aging options such as senior housing or in-home care. You can access additional resources for older adults online with the STEADI Initiative for Health Care Providers.