Slip ups happen. We’re not writing about slipping up as in ‘making a mistake,’ but rather about slipping and falling. It can happen to anyone, but seniors are more likely to find themselves tripping, slipping or tumbling down and injuring themselves. And accidents of this nature are more likely to happen in and around the home.
Poor lighting, rugs, uneven flooring and/or wet flooring, footstools and electric cords, pets underfoot, staircases, clutter, slippery footwear. All these things and more can contribute to a potentially nasty fall. And unfortunately, falls are quite serious for older adults—they’re actually a leading cause of injury and hospitalization.
There are steps we can all take to ensure this doesn’t happen to us. It takes just a little thought and some preventive action in each room within our homes to ensure a safer environment. Often just reorganising the placement of our home furnishings, anchoring rugs and carpets, brightening up the lighting and changing our footwear will make our spaces less conducive to a slip or fall.
Health issues you may have can also be a factor in slip, trip and fall injuries, so be aware of them and take precautions. Some medications can cause dizziness, upset your balance and perhaps impair your vision. Be sure to read the labels of your medications and discuss any adverse side-effects with your doctor.
Staying safe in the bathroom
- Place anti-slip bath mats both inside and outside the door to your shower stall and/or beside and inside your bathtub.
- Wipe up any wetness and spills immediately to avoid slipping.
- Install grab bars beside your toilet to assist you getting up and down or use a raised seat with arms.
- Install grab bars inside your shower stall and/or on the walls of your bathtub.
- Use an anti-slip seat or chair inside your bathtub or have a flip down seat installed in the shower.
- Rinse and dry off soapy and wet areas well when you’ve finished showering or bathing as well as the floor under the sink.
Staying safe in the kitchen
- Put an anti-slip mat in front of the sink and dishwasher.
- Wipe up any spills on your floor immediately to avoid slipping.
- Be sure electrical cords for small appliances are off the floor – do not let them trail off the edge of your countertops.
- Keep a small, stable step stool or ladder handy for when you need to climb up to reach items in higher cupboards; if possible, have someone ‘spot’ you while you are on it to protect you from a fall. Place it directly beneath the cupboard or shelf so you are not stretching sideways at all.
- To avoid using a ladder or step stool, arrange your most often used items within arm’s reach.
Staying safe in the bedroom
- Ensure you have a clear passageway to the bathroom if you get up in the night.
- Be sure all carpets and rugs have anti-slip under padding or are taped or tacked down.
- Don’t allow loose bedding or curtains to trail or pool on the floor.
- Place night lights in your bedroom, hallway and bathroom for nighttime illumination.
- Wear anti-slip slippers. Be seated when you put them on.
- Ensure all electric cords for lamps and electronics are off the floor or tucked away.
- Keep a flashlight beside your bed for back-up if there’s a power outage in the night.
- Keep a cell phone by your bed so you never need to rush to get to your phone if it rings in the night.
Staying safe on the stairs
- Be sure all stairways are well lit, both inside and outside your home.
- Keep stairs clear of junk. Many people have a habit of leaving things to be brought up or down stairs on the steps as a reminder. Don’t!
- Use the hand railings and if possible, add a railing to the other side of your stairway(s) if you need two hands to help yourself up and down them.
- Once again, be sure all stairs, indoors and outdoors are well lit.
- Never wear your reading glasses when going up or down stairs or while walking around.
- Check that the stair treads or carpeting is tacked down securely.
- Regarding outdoor stairs: clear ice and snow from outside stairways and sprinkle sand or a de-icer product on steps and walkways.
Preventing falls when you have pets
- Train pets to keep from getting underfoot if at all possible. It’s much easier to do so with dogs, but not that easy when it comes to cats. So just try to be aware of them and their whereabouts as much as you can so they don’t trip you up.
- Keep their food and water station dry if they’re prone to slopping their water dish and spilling their food. You don’t want to slip and fall because of some spilled kibble, do you?
- Don’t get tangled up in your pet’s leash.
- Don’t allow a dog to lead when going up or down stairs. Train them to wait for you to take the lead and then follow.
By heeding and acting on these tips, we feel you’ll be less likely to slip and fall while living in your home. These pointers also apply to people of all ages, not just to us senior citizens. And by the way, if you’re out visiting someone else’s home and notice any hazardous problems, why not let them know! You could save them a trip.