My mother is in her early 80’s. She still lives on her own and in the same house she raised my brother and me. It’s too big of a home for her but she insists on staying. The home is incredible but not exactly the safest for my elderly mother. You see… my mom is a part of the 2.8 million elderly people who are treated in emergency rooms for fall injuries each year, according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention).
Mother has been in and out of the hospital several times for minor fall injuries. Her last tumble sent her to the ER with an unstable intertrochanteric fracture or her right hip, after tripping over a loose throw rug. After spending several weeks in the hospital and running into a few more health issues, mom was released with doctors’ orders to see a Skilled Home Health Care provider and referred Home Health CC.
When Home Health CC arrived they promptly tended to my mother and made sure she was as comfortable as can be. Next, they gave me a checklist for fall prevention. Mom’s falls were due to hazards that were easy to overlook but very easy to fix.
The checklist provided by the CDC, asks about hazards found in each room of your home. For each hazard, the checklist tells you how to fix the problem.
Look at the floor in each room.
Q. When you walk through a room, do you have to walk around furniture?
* Yes, we need to move the furniture so mom’s path is clear.
Q. Do you have throw rugs on the floor?
* Obviously! Since mom’s floors are hardwood, we are going to try doubled sided tape and if we slip we are going to just remove all her rugs. She is not going to be happy!
Q. Are papers, magazines, books, shoes, boxes, blankets, towels, or other objects on the floor.
* Pick up things that are on the floor. Always keep objects off the floor.
Q. Do you have to walk over or around cords or wires (like cords from lamps, extension cords, or telephone cords)?
* No, but you can coil or tape cords and wires next to the wall so you can’t trip over them.
Look at your kitchen and eating area.
Q. Are the things you use often on high shelves?
* Yes, we moved all of moms pots and pans to lower cabinets (about waist high).
Q. Is your step stool un-steady?
* No step stool for our mom! But, you should get a new, steady stool with a bar to hold on to. Never use a chair as a step stool.
Look at all your bedrooms
Q. Is the light near the bed hard to reach?
* Yes, she must get all the way out of bed to turn her light on so we placed a lamp closer to the bed where she can reach.
Q. Is the path from your bed to the bathroom dark?
* Yes, we put in a beautiful lava lamp night-light for mom! All she has to do is click it on before she goes to bed. We think she secretly LOVES it (haha)!
Q. Is the tub or shower floor slippery?
* Oh yes! We put non-slip rubber mats on the floor of the shower.
Q. Do you have some support when you get in and out of the tub or up from the toilet?
* We had to hire a handyman for this one but he placed a grab bar inside the tub and next to the toilet.
The checklist gave us a few more this we could do around mom’s house to prevent her from falling once again. We did a few things like”
· Took mom to get sturdy shoes with thin, non-slip soles. We got rid of her slippers and thick soled shoes.
· Improved the lighting in her home by using brighter bulbs.
· Painted all her door sills a different color to prevent her from tripping.
· Put all emergency numbers, in large print, by the home phone.
· Talked mom into wearing an alarm device that will bring help in case she falls again and can’t get up.
It has been about 7 weeks since moms “big” fall. She is using a walker to get around her home and the outside world! The Home Health CC team has done an amazing job with our mother’s recovery.
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web–based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [online]. Accessed June 26, 2017.