« Where should we keep our estate planning documents??? | Main | Managing your LTC insurance policy »
Wednesday
Apr082015

Avoiding "the Fall"

Fairfax County's Independent Living Project recently sponsored a presentation by Margie Fox Kwart, a Certified Aging-in-Place specialist and Occupational Therapist.  The summary of her presentation follows with credit to NorthwestMedical.com and PattersonMedical.com.

Besides any preconceived notion that falls are simply the result of poor balance, weakness, or accidental tripping over objects - it is important to realize there are many other components that may contribute to falling. Seek out the appropriate specialist to address the following factors which can contribute to an increased number of falls:

Numerous medications

Vision

Arthritic pain

Foot Problems

Balance skills

Incontinence

INDIVIDUALLY, WE CAN CONTROL THE FOLLOWING AND REDUCE OUR RISK OF FALLING:

Sleep habits

Nutrition/Diet Behaviors related to substance abuse

Hydration

Willingness to use equipment Footwear (i.e. walker, wheelchair)

Techniques for completing tasks

Risk Taking

STRONGLY EMPHASIZE THE NEED TO:

Increase visibility - Stronger/enhanced lighting - on floors, walls, hallways, stairs, countertops, desks

Contrast - to emphasize what is important and to differentiate it from the background

Reduce Glare

Add Textures and Non-skid Surfaces on handrails, grab bars, flooring 

Reduce Clutter – a true health hazard both inside and outside the home

Ensure safe accessibility - Make sure what you need is accessible - both indoors and ourdoors: Must be able to easily access light switches, outlets, mailbox, counters, shelves, dishes, pots & pans, closet hooks and rods, faucets, furniture (accessible height), objects used for daily living tasks (i.e. toilet paper rolls), doors (lever handles), elimination or reduction of thresholds (when entering and exiting the home as well as individual rooms.)

SOME OF MY FAVORITE SIMPLE & ECONOMICAL HOME SAFETY MODIFICATIONS INCLUDE:

LIGHTING:

-Stick on motion sensor LED lights especially on stairs, or to add as task lighting (i.e. under cabinets, in closets and drawers)

-Place a ‘touch night-light’ for use on night stand

-Frosted bulbs and sheer blinds reduce glare

-‘Reveal’ light bulbs simulate natural light

CONTRAST:

-Paint or colored duct tape to provide contrast (especially to mark stair edges, countertop edges, and to differentiate wall from floor)

HANDRAILS AND GRAB BARS (should have texture and should contrast from wall color):

-Add a second stair handrail on opposite side of existing rail

-Add handrail along a hallway – (especially leading to bathroom or other common paths)

-Add an extension to an existing stair handrail so that it leads you onto a flat surface or landing, beyond where the normal rail ends

AUTOMOBILE ACCESSIBILITY:

-‘Swivel seat cushion’ (lazy-susan concept) to ease getting in and out of car

-‘Handybar’ - compact and portable to ease standing up from car seat -3-

KITCHEN:

-Perching stools - adjustable in height and enable you to sit for tasks

-Carts on wheels- to transport dishes and pots

-Slide-out under cabinet shelving for greater accessibility

-Hang pots and pans on hooks within reach

BATHROOMS:

-Bathroom doors should open OUT (for quickest access to a person who may have fallen and landed on the opposite side of the door)

-Professionally install grab bars – do not use suction type; should have contrast and texture. Many variations available depending on where and how used – (i.e. tub, toilet, bed)

-Shower seats - many varieties available depending on individual needs

-‘Tub Cuts’ – to turn a bathtub into a walk-in shower. These are reversible and applicable to most bathtub materials

-Replace sliding glass doors with a shower curtain

-Toilet seat height – add seat risers, add arms, and/or consider ‘toilevator’ to elevate from the base

-Place bar of soap in old pair of pantyhose and attach to soap dish to avoid having to retrieve a dropped bar.

ACTIVITIES OF DAILY LIVING:

-Adaptive equipment is available for just about any challenge related to self care. Products are designed to enable greater independence and safety (i.e. long handled reachers, shoe horns & bath sponges; elastic shoe laces; adjustable height shower hose; leg lifters to assist getting legs on and off of bed).

-‘Life alert’ monitored and non-monitored systems for emergency calling with one touch

CLUTTER:

-Eliminate loose cords on the ground by holding them together with a paper towel roll

-Take boxes of old photos and have them made into a (digital) photo memory album

TEXTURE:

-Roll-on ‘anti-slip flooring products’ for indoor and outdoor use

-‘Serfas Grip Bar Tape’ and other such products cab add grip-ability and texture to rails and bars

FLOORING:

-Ideally eliminate or minimize thresholds in and around the home

-Portable thresholds and ramps are available for easier access into the home -Remove scatter rugs wherever possible

-Ensure rugs are held securely to the floor, especially around the edges, using carpet tape

-Minimize bold prints and patterns on the floor.

MISCELLANEOUS:

-Attach a bell to the collar of your pet to alert you that s/he is approaching

-Place a table by the front door to have a place to rest packages

-‘Furniture Risers’ – place under beds, chairs, etc. to elevate seat height

References (16)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>