With the holidays around the corner, many families will welcome elderly loved ones into their home. But did you know your home could be dangerous for seniors? In fact, a home is the most common place people take a fatal fall. Falls can result in sprains, cuts, bruises, broken bones, tailbone or spinal injuries, fractures of the hip, vertebrae and pelvis as well as traumatic brain injuries. In some cases, these injuries can be serious and may require hospitalization or lead to long-term injury. Falls in the home account for an average of 5.1 million injuries and almost 6,000 deaths each year, according to The Home Safety Council. These falls are preventable by following safety guidelines and recommendations in and around your home. The Home Safety Council provides the following home safety tips to keep people of all ages safe in their home.

  • Have handrails on both sides of stairs and steps.
  • Make sure there is adequate lighting at the top and bottom of the stairs.
  • Keep stairs clear of tripping hazards.
  • Tape rugs to the floor to prevent tripping over them.
  • Have nightlights in the bedroom, hall and bathroom so you can see if you need to get up at night.
  • Have a mat or non-slip strips in the bathtub and shower.
  • Use non-skid bottom bath mats on the bathroom floor.
  • Add grab bars in the tub or shower, especially for senior citizens.
  • Clean up all spills as they happen. Do not leave them where someone else could slip on them.
  • In homes that have children, use safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs.
  • Have well lit porches and walkways.
  • Keep sidewalks and paths clear.
  • Fix broken or chipped steps and walkways as soon as possible.
  • Always use a sturdy ladder when climbing; do not climb on chairs.
  • When using a ladder make certain it is firmly on the ground. Never climb to the top rung of a ladder. With winter quickly approaching, it is necessary to assure that your driveway, stairs and yard are maintained to prevent outside falls.

Most people love snow in the wintertime; it is beautiful to look at and can provide fun outdoor activities like skiing, sledding and building snowmen. But for some individuals, especially senior citizens, snow can be scary and hazardous. The following tips can help assure the safety of your home and yourself if followed correctly.

  • Wear shoes that have traction. The better the traction of the shoe, the more they will grip the ground. If you go somewhere that you need to wear dress shoes, be sure to take them with you and change once you are safely inside.
  • Check the railings on your sidewalk or steps to assure they are sturdy. If you were to slip, you can catch yourself on the railing. It is important to keep the railing itself clean too, to make sure you can grip it if needed.
  • Keep salt and shovel inside your house. That will prevent you from having to walk outside in the snow to get it.
  • Carry a cell phone with you while you are outside; if you were to fall, you could call for help. It also provides security if you are driving in winter weather conditions and have an accident.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help while in public. If you do not feel that you can safely make it to your vehicle, speak to an employee and they will provide assistance. If you are in public and see someone having difficulty walking on the ice and snow, offer assistance if you are able.
  • While in public, take notice of floors and stairs that may be wet and slippery due to snow melting off shoes. Walk carefully.
  • Go slow to keep your balance. Be sure to allow for extra time so you do not have to rush.
  • Strengthen your legs. If you slip, your leg muscles can help catch you. If you do fall, they can help you get up easier.
  • Be aware of falling snow and ice from your roof or gutters. Try to keep the area above your doors and garage free of ice and snow by safely removing what you can, or having it removed by professionals.
  • Before the snow arrives, be sure to remove wet leaves from your sidewalk and walkways. Wet leaves can become slippery and pose a hazard. Falls can happen to people of all ages. By following the above recommendations, you can help keep your family and houseguests safe. If you have experienced a fall, the doctors at Orthopaedic Associates of Michigan can provide the help you need to get back on your feet. To schedule an appointment, please call us at 616-459-7101.

Sources: Home Safety Council, Winter Fall Prevention Tips for Seniors, WebMD