Reducing the Risk of Falls Outside of the Home
Falls are a very serious risk in your elderly care journey with your aging parent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that each year more than 2 and a half million aging adults end up seeking treatment in emergency departments for injuries that they sustain during falls. More than 700,000 of these will end up hospitalized. The risks of a fall do not end just with the initial pain of the fall itself. Seniors who suffer from falls are far more likely to lose mobility and experience diminished physical and cognitive functioning, and quality of life.
Reducing falls throughout your parent’s space is a vital step in helping to keep him safer and more active throughout his later years. This is not just about preventing falls on stairs or making the bathroom more secure. While these are very important elements of fall protection, you must keep in mind all areas where your parent moves around. This includes the outside of his home. Whether he enjoys spending time outside gardening or people watching, or his time outdoors is primarily limited to getting in and out of the house and car, there are fall risks that you can minimize to help keep him safer.
Use these tips to help lower fall risks outside of your parent’s home:
- Handrails. If there are steps outside of your parent’s home, even if it is only one or two, make sure that the handrails are secure. Having handrails that are loose or weak can actually be more dangerous than not having any at all. Your parent may reach out for the support of the rail and it could give way under his weight. This could result in a much more serious fall and severe injuries. Ensure that the rails are in place properly, secure, and strong enough to support his weight.
- Ramps. If your parent relies heavily on a mobility device such as a wheelchair, scooter, or walker, steps can be treacherous. Even with the help of you or an elderly health care services provider, navigating the steps can result in a serious tumble. These situations could injure your parent as well as the person helping him. Instead, look into installing ramps that will allow him to use his mobility aid to get in and out of the home.
- Walkways. Unsure footing on a walkway can spell disaster for a senior with balance or mobility problems. Make sure that there is no debris such as leaves, flower petals, dirt, or pebbles on these walkways, and remove any obstacles such as electrical cords or hoses.
- Vehicles. Getting in and out of a vehicle can be difficult for seniors but that should not diminish his ability to enjoy an active lifestyle. There are several devices available to simplify this process and make it safer for your parent. A removable handle added to the doorframe when getting out of the car provides leverage that enables your senior to push himself up and out of the vehicle. A pivoting disk allows your parent to stand on it and turn to the side, making it easier to slide into the vehicle.