When Footsteps Become Fatal

Guest Post By Patricia Brehm

Getting older is a struggle for elders and caregivers alike. Most of the time when you wake up, get dressed, and go to see the elder in your life; you’re focused on their care. However, our minds are concerned with the greater health problems located in the heart, back, and other parts of the body. Sometimes we focus so intensely on the person that we forget to look at outside factors which might pose a danger to our loved ones. One of the main dangers to aging adults is elements in their home that might cause them to fall or slip.

According to the Center for Disease Control:

• One in every three adults over the age of 65 falls each year
• In addition, falls are linked in to major injuries such as brain damage, bone fractures, and general trauma.
• Falls are the leading cause of death for adults 65 and older.

Note: If you’re having difficulties with accessibility needs or finding information please visit Ramps.org.

Many falls are linked to pre-existing health conditions such as osteoporosis and other health conditions that reduce strength as well as mobility, there are ways you can be pro-active. Encourage the senior in your life to exercise to build up strength and stability. Regular visits to the doctor are a must to prevent and make sure health conditions that could cause falls are taken care of properly.
Care givers should also be proactive about reducing the risk factors that could cause falls in an aging adult’s home.  Changes in elevation (such as rugs, stairs, ramps or other inclines) are frequently a factor with slip and fall accidents. Here are some ways that you can make sure homes are fall-free and promote safety:

• Make sure there is adequate lighting throughout the house so rugs, carpets, or other objects that could cause falls are visible.
• Prevent falls on outdoor and indoor stairs by investing in permanent rather than temporary solutions non-skid treatments, such as Handi-Treads.  Be wary of temporary or inferior products that if not installed properly can peel up or fall, increasing the possibility of a slip or trip hazard.
• Invest in handrails and other devices that help support balance, especially for aging adults who have issues with mobility and strength.
• When modifying the home of an individual with a disability, try to find products that follow ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) standards A good overview of ramping standards and considerations are posted at Ramps.org
• When installing devices on your own, follow all instructions. If you are employing an installer, make sure he or she is reliable and takes time to install safety precautions properly.

Whether you are dealing with a health condition or a risk factor in the home, taking the time to assess fall hazards will save you time and money in the long run. By encouraging exercise, doctor’s visits, and safety precautions, caregivers prevent aging adults’ footsteps from becoming fatal.


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