15 Products that Help Prevent Elder Falls
Falling down may cause some slight discomfort and embarrassment in your youth, but it can lead to serious illnesses and health issues when you’re a senior. 30% of seniors over 65 fall each year, and those falls are the leading cause of fatal injuries.
Many senior falls are preventable if you take the time to outfit your home or senior living space with the right products to make it safer.
Products to Prevent Falls
A few simple changes to your home can make a big difference in how likely you are to suffer a fall.
- Grab bars
Grab bars, especially in spots like next to the shower and toilet in the bathroom where the floors get slippery, can play a big role in helping prevent falls. They can also come in handy in any place where a senior may have trouble getting up and down, like the chairs at the kitchen table or next to the bed.
- Better lighting
Improving the amount of lighting in the home is a small, but crucial update you can make for safety. Put extra lighting along stairwells, along the floor, and next to doorways. If there’s any room that doesn’t have great lighting now, add to what’s there. As eyesight starts to get weaker, having that extra aid to see the objects around you better becomes really important for reducing risks.
- Nonslip mats and tape
In any room where the floor may get slippery, add nonslip mats or put down nonslip tape in order to add friction so falls are less likely to happen. This is a pretty cheap and simple option that can be really helpful.
- Shower chair
Showers are one of the biggest risks when it comes to senior falls. A shower chair makes it easier to get clean without worrying about slipping while you’re in the shower and also makes it easier to get in and out of the shower safely.
- Transfer bench
A transfer bench is another option for getting in and out of the shower more easily. They also double as shower chairs, but are designed so that you can skip having to step over the edge of the bath and can instead scoot over to the other side. They eliminate one of the trickiest moves seniors regularly have to make that increases the risk of a fall.
- Raised toilet seat with bars
Toilets are another big risk factor once getting up and down becomes difficult. A raised toilet seat is easier to sit on and rise up from without trouble, and adding bars to it gives seniors something to hold onto while they do so.
- The clapper, a remote control, or the Amazon Echo
Although these are all different products, we’re lumping them together because we recommend them for the same purpose: giving seniors a way to turn on the lights without having to move in the dark to do so. A less high-tech option for the same result is to place lamps strategically around the house in any spots where a senior may settle that aren’t within reach of a light switch (especially by the bed).
Not having to stumble in the dark to find a light switch eliminates another common fall risk for seniors. The clapper lets them turn on the light with a simple clap. A light that comes with a remote control can let them do it from wherever they take the remote (but they have to keep up with it for it to help). And the Amazon Echo can be programmed so that it will turn on the lights when asked to do so with spoken words.
- Reachers and grabbers
Another big risk activity for seniors is trying to reach things high up in a cabinet. While in most of those situations, their safest action would be to ask a caregiver or family member to help, if no one’s around, seniors may be prone to try on their own rather than wait. Having a grabbing tool around can help. They make it easy to reach higher or further than a person can do on their own.
- Bed rail
Bed rails both help restless sleepers avoid falling out of bed in the night and can help any senior more easily get up out of bed without trouble. Depending on whether your concern is falls during the night, falls from getting on and off the bed, or both, you can find different models of bed rails designed to be useful in each scenario.
This is the most expensive item on the list, but one that’s important to consider for any seniors with stairs in their home that need to be able to get up and down them on a regular basis. If it’s possible to move your stuff to a room on the ground floor, that may be preferable. If not, a stairlift makes the trip up and down safe.
One of the most low-fi, but reliable items on the list, a cane makes walking easier. For seniors that struggle with balance, they can help you stay safe and balanced as you walk.
Walkers take it one step further than a cane for those who have more difficulty walking. They may not always be convenient, but using a walker is far better than the alternative if it can save you from a broken bone or worse.
Products to Reduce the Risk of a Fall
All of those items are useful for prevention, which is always preferable. But even if you implement all of them, you may not be able to ward off the possibility of a fall completely. To be safe, consider also purchasing these items that will help ensure the damage is reduced if you do fall.
- Sensor alarm systems
If a senior does fall off the bed or out of a wheelchair, you want someone to know right away so they can check and make sure there are no serious injuries. You can buy both chair exit alarm systems and bed exit alarm systems that will sense when the user falls and alert the appropriate contacts so they get help.
- Fall mats
Fall mats will soften the landing for any fall that occurs, making it much less likely that a senior will encounter broken bones or other serious injuries. You can put them in any spots that may be a cause for concern, like next to the bed or on any floor surfaces around the house that are especially hard.
- Medical alert system
Finally, medical alert systems are designed to help make sure seniors get help fast when there’s a problem. Many of them come with a fall alert pendant that seniors can wear to ensure that they’ll alert loved ones, even if the senior can’t reach a button or phone themselves.
We can’t rid the world of all risks, but we can certainly take steps to minimize preventable ones. Falls happen, but they happen less often to people who take the precautions to reduce their risk. Most of these products are fairly affordable and well worth the cost if they keep you or a loved one out of the hospital.