As the month of June grows closer to an end, so does the celebration of National Safety Month. As part of our mission at St. Luke Missionary Hospice is to educate the public on hospice and caring for the elderly- we believe it is our duty to promote National Safety all year round. In order to promote safety with the elderly population the methods of presentation and steps of precaution must be expressed.
The National Safety Council states that “unintentional-injury-related deaths happen when we least expect them, often during leisure activities. And many injuries could be prevented with proper safety precautions.”
The most common causes of unintentional injuries and death are poisoning, motor vehicle accidents, falls, suffocation from choking, drowning, fires and burns, and natural disasters.
Do you know what the number cause of injury related deaths for individuals 65 years of age or older is?
FALLS! Thats right, falls.
Falls are also one of the main causes of traumatic brain injury.
About 1/3 of seniors over the age of 65 fall each year, and the risk of falls increases with age. By age 80, over 1/2 of older Americans fall annually. 55% of falls occur inside the home and another 30% occur just outside the home.
Most falls occur on a level surface (as opposed to steps), and the major reason older patients fall is most often related to medications. Often times, medications or lack of compliance with medications, can relate to accidents, dizziness, unsteadiness or difficulties with walking.
Each year, thousands of older Americans fall at home. Many of them are seriously injured and some are disabled. Falls are often due to hazards that are easy to overlook but many times, easy to fix. St. Luke Missionary Hospice has developed a checklist that can be used to help you find and fix hazards in your home. Here are a few tips to promote a safer environment and minimize the risks of falls in the home:
- Eliminate all throw rugs that could easily lead to falls in the home.
- Check to make sure no liquid, grease or food is spilled on the floor
- Food, dishes and cooking equipment are stored at an easy-to-reach, waist high level for ease of access.
- A step stool with a handrail is available to reach upper cabinets or move all items to bottom shelves.
- A counter-top toaster oven is available to avoid leaning over to or trying to reach an oven.
- Grab bars are on the bathroom walls, near the toilet or along the bathtub or shower
- A slip-resistant rug is next to bathtub or shower
- A mounted or suction liquid soap dispenser is on the bathtub/shower wall
- Non-skid adhesive textured strips are on the bathtub/shower floor
- A sturdy plastic seat (shower chair) is placed in the bathtub
- There is a raised toilet seat or a toilet seat with armrests to maintain balance getting on or off the toilet.
- An extra- long mirror is over the sink so it can be used when sitting
- A telephone or safety device is accessible while in the bathroom.
- Clutter is cleared from the floor so that nothing is in the way
- A lamp, flashlight and telephone are within easy reach near the bed
- Nightlights are placed along the path from the bedroom to the bath
- A raised mattress is available to get in and out of bed easily
- Television remote and telephone is easily accessible from the bed.
- all floor throw rugs are removed
Living Area Safety
- Furniture is arranged to create clear paths between rooms, no furniture in the way
- Adequate and safe seating
- Pathway is clear of electrical wires and cords
- Light switches are easily accessible at entrances to rooms
- Glow in the dark switches or sound-activated lamps are available to promote ease.
- Loose rugs are secured with double faced tape or slip resistant backing.
- Electric appliances and telephone cords are out the way
- Rugs are secured on concrete, ceramic or marble floors
- There are no loose wood floorboards that need repair
- Furniture is firm, high and has armrests to assist in standing
- A cordless phone is close by so there is no danger of hurrying to reach the phone
Stairs and Carpet Areas in Home
- Stairways have a strong handrail, preferably on both sides
- Carpet is not patterned or deep pile; Carpet is solid color to show the edges of steps more clearly
- A brightly colored piece of tape is used if there is difficulty seeing the edge of the stairs
- Pick up things on stairs such as books, shoes, laundry or other objects.
- Be sure the stairway is well lit.
- Have glowing light switches installed at the top and bottom of the stairwell
- Repair any broken or loose steps.
Have any other safety tips?? Comment below and let us know!
To learn more about Fall Prevention and how St. Luke Missionary Hospice can help ensure your home is as safe as possible, please contact us at (843) 473-3055.