Falls are dangerous. Whether a child, adult or elderly person takes a tumble, falls can adversely affect anyone. However, seniors are at much greater risk of injury due to a fall. With age, the bones, muscles, and joints weaken. A falls may cause bones to fracture or connective tissues to be torn, leaving a long recovery ahead. Moreover, severe falls may be quite debilitating to seniors.
Of course, many factors may lead to a fall, but the good news is that the chance of a fall can be reduced by taking some basic precautions. Though everyone charged with the care of a senior must take care to prevent falls, the staff of any retirement home sheltering the elderly should pay extra attention towards minimizing the chances of falls. Here are some useful tips for preventing such incidents in a retirement home setting:
- Looking out for trip hazards: Stairs and ramps may be obvious culprits, but objects even on a flat floor is a major source of risks for causing falls. Caretakers should be wary of any trip hazards such as rugs, floor transitions, electrical cords, and even furniture legs. Oklahoma dust has a tendency of accumulating on interior floors as well, so keeping floors clean and dry can go a long way for preventing falls.
- Wearing sensible shoes: Loss of traction between the shoes and the floor create the perfect conditions for a fall. Seniors should wear shoes that are not just comfortable but also provide firm grip on flooring surfaces. As a fall prevention plan, retirement home staff should see to it that the seniors wear shoes with sturdy support and non-skid soles. Slippers, heels, and sandals are naturally unfavorable options.
- Taking care with medication side effects: Medications are often essential for seniors’ quality of life, but they often come with side effects that can compromise safety. For instance, some medicines may cause dizziness or vertigo. So, any retirement home staff should be aware of how each medication affects the seniors in their care and keep a record of these effects.
- Getting physical exercise: Retirement homes in Oklahoma have stepped up their game in promoting the physical fitness of their residents. Whether water aerobics or yoga, exercise is helpful for maintaining the physical strength of the elderly making them less prone to falls. However, not all seniors may do the same exercises given unique limitations, so they should be taught and encouraged to exercise according to their ability.
- Keeping eyes healthy and areas well-lit: Sometimes, the lack of sufficient lighting can lead to falls. Aging eyes are not the best as seeing shapes in poor lighting. This may lead seniors to walk into furniture or other obstacles. Proper lighting can help them distinguish between walls, floor, doorways, and other objects in their path; and sufficient maintenance of optical health will improve the effectiveness of these efforts.
- Stairway safety precautions: Ideally, there would be no stairs in a retirement or assisted living home setting, but even in Oklahoma, stairs are common in multi-story buildings for emergencies when elevators cannot be used. If ever seniors are required to use the stairs, there should be sufficient provision for safety. The steps should have a gripping surface such as flat carpet; hand railings should be high enough to grab and be able to support a person’s full weight. Also, the steps themselves should not be too steep or narrow and the edges should be clearly marked.
- Watching for outdoor hazards: Enjoying the sunny Oklahoma weather can lift the spirits of seniors, but the outdoors comes with numerous risks. Outside obstacles are common and often unpredictable. Stones, bricked sidewalks, gardening tools, and even the height difference between grass and pavement can pose hazards. Obstacles should be kept clear. New pathways should be built wide with marked edges and should also be wheelchair friendly.
- Making the bathroom safe: Different types of assistive devices can be used for preventing falls in the bathroom. For instance, grab bars in the shower area can ensure stability when entering and exiting the shower, while fold-down seats can make the bathing process more secure. Many retirement homes in Oklahoma now offer residents the opportunity to take a proper bath in a walk-in tub. Likewise, the sticks or walking sticks can be used for support while moving around or walking.