Age in place: Prevent in-home falls
According to LongTermCare.gov, average costs for long-term care is growing; for a semi-private room in a nursing home, seniors and their families should expect to pay an average of $6,844 per month. For a private room, that number jumps to $7,698.
To mitigate these high costs, many seniors choose the option to age-in-place. Aging in place is a phrase used to describe seniors who want to stay in their homes as they get older, rather than moving to an assisted living or nursing facility. It is a viable alternative for many seniors, as long as the proper steps are taken beforehand to ensure safety, such as fall-proofing the home.
Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall — and six out of every 10 of those falls happens at home. The CDC recommends that all seniors take the steps to reduce fall risks in their homes in order to protect them for years to come.
How to prevent falls in the home
Floor traction is necessary
One of the easiest changes you can make is to install cheap no-slip strips around your home to provide much-needed traction. These strips are a little rough, which can help give you traction on slippery surfaces such as hardwood or tile floors. You can place these anywhere in your home that may induce a fall (such as stairs.)
Update your home
Because 80 percent of falls occur in the bathroom, you should take extra precaution in this space. One of the first modifications many seniors make is to install a walk-in tub in their bathroom. You can also install railings along the walls where seniors need to get up and down (toilet and shower).
Other home updates include rearranging furniture to allow for easier movement and rearranging cabinets to allow for easier access to necessities. If you have loose floorboards or uneven carpeting, this is the time to make these corrections as well.
Get extra support
Consider purchasing a medical alert system, which can alert family members or emergency services of a fall. These can give seniors and their loved ones a sense of comfort and reassurance no matter the situation.
If your medical provider deems it necessary, you may even get your system covered by your insurance.
Strengthen your balance
Exercise can reduce the risk of falling by up to 35%. Studies have shown that activities such as yoga (hyperlink to yoga article) can help you improve your balance and strengthen your legs — both of which can help prevent falls. This study found that yoga improved seniors’ ability to rise from a chair, it increased their step length, and ultimately reduced their fear of falling.
Check with local agencies
Many state and local governments help cover the costs of home modification to prevent falls, including VA benefits, government grants, and Medicaid. You can find aging resources in your area by searching the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging resource center.
Some of these resources include a variety of community-based programs and activities, which can also help with issues seniors face during retirement (hyperlink to retirement tips), such as loneliness and lack of activity.