Australia’s older generation is projected to double by 2057, and currently half of all those aged over 65 have some sort of disability. The majority of older Australians (two out of every three) did not use care services in 2014-2015, and most live in a private dwelling with a husband, wife, or partner. One quarter of older people live alone. Because seniors are more susceptible to falls, it is important to ensure that homes are as safe as possible. In this post we focus on ways they can minimise safety risks in their dwellings.
In Australia and New Zealand, falls are a major health issue, with around 30 per cent of seniors experiencing one fall per year, and falls accounting for 40 per cent per cent of injury-related deaths. The most serious of all fall-related injuries are hip fractures. Recovery times can be lengthy and post-surgical complications are not uncommon. Once a senior falls, their quality of life can be significantly reduced as they tend to restrict activity due to a fear of further incidents.
Seniors, like everyone else, need movement and exercise to stay fit. Therefore, they should take the required steps they need to reduce the fear factor. Wearable medical devices can go a long way towards making a senior feel like they will be attended to immediately in the case of an emergency. Activities such as chair yoga, meanwhile, can help them gain greater confidence in their strength and flexibility, while providing them with support during exercise.
Of course, seniors cannot feel truly safe if there are hazards in their homes. Research shows that a vast majority of people aged over 65 have not taken specific steps to reduce fall risks at home, despite the fact that changes are easy and do not involve major cost. To keep your home safe, look to eliminate trip hazards. Remove all rugs, get rid of low furniture, and place ramps between rooms to correct level changes. Consider wall-to-wall carpeting or wooden flooring to replace rugs.
Place handrails on the stairwell for extra support. Showers are another typical place where falls occur, because the floor can be slippery. Make sure grab bars are installed in the shower and anywhere where you need extra support while you are reaching for high or far items. Installing a raised toilet seat in bathrooms can also make it easier to sit down and stand up with ease. Use rubber mats in the shower to prevent slips and if you are frail or you find it difficult to hold your balance, consider a shower chair, which will add a great deal of comfort and stability to your experience. Finally, make sure your home is fitted with a smoke alarm.
When planning your home safety strategy, remember to look at possible fall risks outside as well as in. For instance, older people can sometimes trip while going up or down steps in front of the main door. Handrails and ramps can make the process easier, and usually don’t take major work. At any rate, any investment you make in reducing the risk of falls is profitable, considering the time and expense that recovery from falls can entail.