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Home Safety Tips: Physical Therapy Clifton NJ

According to the Centers for Disease Control, one out of three people over the age of 65 fall each year. Among older adults aged 65+, falls are the leading cause of accidental death, nonfatal injuries, and trauma-related hospitalizations. People over the age of 75 have the highest rate of non-fatal fall episodes of all age groups.

Falls can result in cuts, scrapes, bruises, broken bones, head injuries, and/or death. Even without an injury, a fall can cause an older adult to develop a fear of falling, which can be debilitating and cause a person to limit physical activity and social interaction to avoid the potential for falls.

Many falls occur in the home, so below are some tips to keep your home safe and to potentially prevent falls:

Entry

  • If there are steps to enter/exit, make sure that:
    • There is a sturdy handrail
    • The steps are dry and clear of debris
  • A doormat may be a tripping hazard, so be careful when walking near it or remove it completely.

 

Kitchen

  • To avoid being scalded, set your water heater to a maximum of 120 degrees.
  • Rugs may be tripping hazards, you may want to remove them
  • Keep the floor clean and dry to prevent slipping
  • If possible, keep all frequently used items at a level where you won’t need to reach overhead or bend down
  • Do not try to lift or move heavy pots full of hot food or liquid
  • Keep the handles of pots and pans turned in so that no one accidentally knocks cooking food off of the stove
  • Keep cords short by gathering up the excess length with a zip-tie to prevent tripping on cords or knocking appliances onto oneself.

 

Bathroom

  • If you have difficulty standing from the toilet, consider getting a commode chair.
  • If you need assistance to maintain your balance while performing toileting tasks (undressing, cleaning yourself, dressing), install a sturdy grab bar. Towel racks are not strong enough to hold a person’s body weight if they fall.
  • If possible, use a step-in shower rather than a tub shower to decrease the risk of falling when you step over the edge.
  • To avoid being scalded, set your water heater to a maximum of 120 degrees.
  • Bathe using a shower chair and a shower hose to prevent slipping and falling.
  • Install grab bars near the shower or tub to use when stepping in and out.
  • Keep the floor clean and dry to prevent slipping.

 

Living Room

  • Remove throw rugs, as they can be tripping hazards
  • Do not allow cords to run across traffic areas
  • Keep cords short by gathering up the excess length with a zip-tie to prevent tripping on them.
  • Keep the floor clear of clutter to prevent falls.

 

Bedroom

  • Use a nightlight to prevent falling during the evening, especially when getting up to use the bathroom.
  • Consider using a bedside commode at night.
  • Do not allow cords to run across traffic areas.
  • Keep cords short by gathering up the excess length with a zip-tie to prevent tripping on them.
  • Keep the floor clear of clutter to prevent falls.

 

Miscellaneous Safety Tips

  • Keep in mind that though they can be good companions, small animals are a tripping hazard.
  • Use nightlights in the hallways to prevent falling during the evening.
  • Consider using a medical alert system so that if you ever need emergency assistance and cannot get to a phone, you will be able to call for help.
  • Check in with a loved one regularly.
  • Consult your physician regularly.
  • Have your vision checked regularly.
  • If you are feeling sick, dizzy, or unusual in any way, do not hesitate to call your doctor!
  • Never be too proud to ask for help, whether it be to carry groceries, to help clean your house, to drive you around town, or any other activity you do not feel confident doing on your own.
  • Seek out a community-based balance class for seniors
  • If you are experiencing weakness, impaired balance, or are having difficulty getting around your home and the community, consider Physical Therapy to address these impairments.

 

A home evaluation performed by an Occupational Therapist may be indicated to individualize the safety recommendations for your specific living environment. The therapist will assess your abilities and limitations and determine adaptations or special equipment that will increase your safety in your home. The therapist will make a recommendation on the best placement for grab bars, the most appropriate type of tub seat, toilet seat, etc. to increase your safety and independence. Depending on your physical condition, the therapist may also make recommendations of alternate ways of performing some activities of daily living to prevent further decline and/or continued independence in tasks you are struggling to perform. This may also include the use of adaptive devices that will increase your ability to safely bathe, dress/undress, perform homemaking tasks and all other daily living activities.