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Reducing Fall Risks

Reducing Fall Risks

Since falling is the single biggest reason we see as the cause for needing nursing home care, here are some thoughts on how to reduce that risk. It’s important for those kids in their 50’s and 60’s to keep a watch on mom or dad whose balance, eyesight, and physical mobility may be declining. Just this week former Senator Joe Lieberman died, reportedly from a fall at home that resulted in head injuries. This is something that all of us should consider is a serious safety risk.

Rugs are a big problem, as a toe catching on the edge of one, or a bunch-up can cause a trip. The general rule at home is for elders to have wall to wall carpeting or bare floors. Along with that, make sure electrical cords are behind furnishings or along the base of the wall. Handrails in stairways are a must and grab bars in the shower or bathtub are equally important. Of course, they don’t do any good if they aren’t used when going up or down stairs. The anecdote of my now deceased mother-in-law is illustrative. We put handrails going to her second floor bedroom because she refused to move into a first floor bedroom. She also refused to use the handrails, until one day she stumbled and fell down the stairs. Her injuries prevented her from ever returning home again. Also, don’t leave boxes or papers or other clutter laying around. Tripping on any object is more likely to occur if an elderly person’s vision or stepping is impaired. In addition, some medications can cause dizziness or drowsiness, so be aware of mom or dad’s medications. For those of you who need eyeglasses, make sure you wear them. And the shoes you wear should fit well, be comfortable, and if possible, have non skid soles. If balance or gait is somewhat off, talk with your doctor or occupational therapist to see if a cane or walker might be helpful. Glare from lighting can be a problem for anyone, but someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s may especially be affected by glare. A recent article on the subject raised my awareness of the issue. Having shades on windows and glare free lighting could be helpful. For people of all ages nightlights in bathrooms or hallways will help prevent a serious fall. It’s a matter of pride for some of us that we can make it to the bathroom in a pitch dark night without having a light, but I had to admit to myself some time ago that tripping once could cause serious injury, so either way a nightlight or flipping on a wall switch is much safer. Your spouse may grumble as the light floods the room, but you’ll be alive to discuss that issue next morning. There is only so much that can be done, however, because the frailties of aging leading to reduced balance and muscle tone, poorer eyesight and less awareness of surroundings will increase the chance of falling. Just be aware for yourself and your elderly loved ones that preparing the house and being careful is the best that anyone can do.

Attorneys Stephen O. Allaire (Of Counsel) and Halley C. Allaire are partners in the law firm of Allaire Elder Law.
Attorneys Stephen O. Allaire (Of Counsel) and Halley C. Allaire are members of the National Academy of Elder Law. Attorneys, Inc.
Allaire Elder Law is a highly respected, and highly rated law firm with offices in Bristol, CT.
We can be contacted by phone at (860) 259-1500 or by email.

If you have a question, send a written note to us and we may use your question in a future column.




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