Falling is one of the top fears of seniors. Since an injury from a fall can take away the aging adult’s independence, this is a valid concern. According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the number one cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries to seniors. In the last hour, three older adults in America died from falls. To spare your loved one this fate, here are tips on what to do about your aging parent’s fear of falling.
- Remove slipping and tripping hazards. Clear clutter from the floors. If your parent must lean over to reach things or walk around items on the floor, he is more likely to lose his balance. Position electrical cords out of walking paths in the house and secure them to the walls. Do not leave things on the stairs. Remove or snugly secure rugs and stair runners to prevent tripping.
- Get a grip. Install handrails in critical locations, where the senior is likely to lose her balance. Regaining her balance or walk steadily, can spare her a trip to the emergency room and a broken hip.
- Home repairs. When a senior has a limited budget, it is understandable that he would delay hiring a handyman to make home repairs. This year, for his birthday, give him the gift of a handyman for a day to fix all those little things around the house and make it safer for him to live there.
- Lighting. A well-lit house and yard will prevent falls, because the senior can see tripping hazards and changes in elevation. Our parents’ generation is famous for turning off the lights to conserve electricity. However, with today’s LED bulbs, the expense of a well-lit house is nominal and well worth the investment.
- Pets. If your parent’s pet gets underfoot, your mom or dad could fall on it, injuring both your parent and the animal. Check for local obedience training classes to minimize this risk.
- Footwear can either prevent or cause falls. An older adult can accidentally step out of slippers or flipflops and take a tumble. Shoes with laces are tripping hazards. Replace laced shoes with those with Velcro straps. The straps will be easier for the senior to open and close than shoestrings, and they will not come loose and trip the wearer. Always wearing sturdy shoes with good arch and ankle support, indoors and outside, can keep a senior steadier on her feet.
- Use a quad cane or walker. A person with balance issues or a history of falls, might need to use a quad cane or walker every time he is on his feet, to prevent falls. Although many seniors resist the use of physical support devices as symbolic of growing older and losing independence, the alternative is worse.
These tips can help your aging loved one enjoy the golden years safe from fall injuries.
National Council on Aging. “Falls Prevention Facts.” (accessed July 4, 2018) https://www.ncoa.org/news/resources-for-reporters/get-the-facts/falls-prevention-facts/
Daystar Retirement Village. “Understanding Your Aging Parents: Seniors’ Top 10 Fears.” (accessed July 3, 2018) https://info.daystarseattle.com/senior-living-blog/understanding-your-aging-parents-seniors-top-10-fears