Falling is no laughing matter for anyone, especially for aging adults. But for seniors over the age of 65, a fall could mean sudden death.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, seniors dying from falls increased from about 18,000 a decade ago to 30,000 in 2016. If statistics hold true, there could be as many as 59,000 reported deaths from aging adults falling by 2030.
Fortunately, falls can be prevented by taking proactive measures, especially in the home.
So just how safe is your house if you’re well into your senior years or have visitors in this age group?
Jason McCullough with Brothers Redevelopment Inc. walked through a model house to show just how to prevent a deadly fall.
“Most falls happen (in) main entry areas, kitchens and baths,” McCullough said. He pointed out easy changes that residents and homeowners could make that were both effective and cost efficient. One of those being the grab bar that can be used in any room.
“They come in a kind of a decorative finish,” McCullough said. “This one’s brushed steel. So we usually place these in a bathroom. We’ll do a vertical installation for transitions in and out of the tub. And then sometimes we’ll also place a diagonal installation so that when you’re in the tub you have more safety and stability.”
Bathrooms in general are considered dangerous spaces, especially where bathtubs are concerned; however, moving from one room into the next can also provoke a deadly fall according to some experts.
“So this would be an issue right here because we have a rise in the floor and this transition’s a little thin,” McCullough said, pointing to a change in floor height on a threshold. “We’d want to see a wider, more sloped transition piece here or we’d want the floor installed level with the other existing floor.”
But McCullough said fall dangers are not just contained within a person’s home. The outside of the home is also important enough to modify when needed. He pointed out several factors in a person’s backyard that could likely contribute to a deadly accident.
“This is a great example of where we get comfortable and we miss things over the years,” McCullough said, pointing to steps without rails. “Our houses age just like we do. And as we get older, a lot of times our eyesight starts to go, their motor skills start to slip and they don’t notice things that they would have, or someone new to their house would have noticed. And just this kind of little small ledge here, this could be a trip hazard and you don’t have anything to grab onto if you do trip and fall.”
Lastly, he suggests that you pay attention to clues. For example, if you or someone you know is starting to walk close to the walls for stability or support, it may be time to reevaluate your house for safety or hire an expert to do so. If ignored, it could lead to serious injuries and even death. It’s safe to say, slip and fall accidents are always best dealt with in a preventative manner… when and if at all possible.