Products that Help Prevent Elder Falls

15 Products that Help Prevent Elder Falls15 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Stairlift

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.

  1. Cane 

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.

  1. Walker

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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. 

  1. 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.

Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based copywriter and lifelong student with an ongoing curiousity to learn and explore new things. She turns that interest to researching and exploring subjects helpful to seniors and their families for SeniorAdvisor.com.

6 Comments

  1. Patti Parrish Bondor June 14, 2016 Reply

    Not every senior care facility will have these or even use them if provided by and paid for by the family. Case in point: Governor’s Glen in Forest Park Georgia. My aunt stays there and has had several Falls despite the fact that we provided them with two types of fall alarm systems. One for her to use in bed and one while she’s in her wheelchair. The problem is they refuse to use them. They don’t state that they won’t use them they just don’t use them. She falls, and the excuses begin. Can you offer any suggestions on how to handle this I’ve tried talking with the owner the charge nurse and anybody else in charge. It doesn’t change.

  2. Marla Popkin June 21, 2016 Reply

    Look up the facility to see their record! Consider switching to a different facility that has better record. A hip fracture often leads to an earlier than would be death. The big picture of your concerns however, are the flip side to these tools. If you can’t convince your family member and/ or their caregivers to use them,…then it’s a waste.
    The most important thing is early education to the intended end user.
    Years before most elderly are willing to consider the use of any products, they must be educated on the warning signs of decreasing balance. Many elderly end up in short term rehab for a variety of reasons, prior to fractures or falls. UTI’s, pneumonia, etc. This is the best time for occupational, physical and speech therapists to educate and monitor safety techniques and memory skills.

  3. Marla Popkin June 21, 2016 Reply

    Kristen Hicks, great suggestions! I would note that the walker pictured, is not locked and would not be safe. On a different note, a reacher/grabber is also excellent for picking up items from the floor! Bending over changes your center of gravity and usually your blood pressure, both high risk activities. Also, many elderly have CHF or COPD and using the reacher can avoid shortness of breath. An item I would strongly suggest adding to the list is a bedside commode- often called a 3-in-1 because it can be used as the raised commode, the bedside commode and the shower chair. This item is typically covered by Medicare allowable once every 5 years.
    If your loved one receives home health, the evaluation typically includes a Home Assessment, in which the therapists will make suggestions on safety equipment and adaptive equipment (AE)for action it is of daily living (ADL’s). Wheelchairs (W/C), rolling walkers (R/W), commodes are typically referred to as adaptive devices (AD). I hope the explanation of some of the jargon helps!

  4. Marla Popkin June 21, 2016 Reply

    Sorry, ADL’s, Activities of daily living ie bathing, dressing, grooming, hygiene, …

  5. Steve June 22, 2016 Reply

    This is a great list of mostly easy things to implement to help reduce slip & fall risk. One thing that isn’t mentioned is how important wearing proper footwear is in the prevention of slip & falls. Walking in bare feet or socks poses a 1000% increase in fall risk compared to good supportive footwear. My company makes Quikiks Hands-Free Shoes, that allow people who struggle to put on proper securely fastening footwear to do so completely hands-free and without bending over. We think they can help prevent slip & falls if used instead of bare feet or non-securing bedroom slippers, flip-flops etc.

  6. Robert Jenkins July 20, 2016 Reply

    Great article. However, I would like to point out that from statistics, 1/3 of those over the age of 65 fall each year. What’s alarming is that 47% of those that fall are UNINJURED but cannot get back up on their feet. They need assistance from a caregiver in order to be able to stand, etc. However, this promotes an even greater challenge as lifting the person could result in injury to the caregiver or vice versa. A company in the UK has been very successful with their lifting cushion products that can lift someone that is uninjured from the floor and position them in a seated position. Their products are making their way to the US and Canada, so hopefully those with loved ones that fall can benefit from these type of products which also allow the fallen person to be lifted in a dignified manner instead of being intimidated from the use of a large mechanical type lift.

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