April 11, 2017
Those who suffer with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease have an increased risk of falling. Problems with vision, balance and depth perception increase dementia-related falls. Considering the fact that they can lead to broken bones and even head injuries, it is extremely important to prevent dementia-related falls before they occur.
If your loved one is at risk of falling, “fall-proof” is a term you should become familiar with. Just as you once “child-proofed” your home to remove hazards for toddlers, now you are going to make sure that your home is safe from hazards that might cause falls.
Here are five ways that you can prevent dementia-related falls and fall-proof your loved one’s home:
1. Make sure exterior walkways are safe. It’s important to address exterior walkways to ensure that your loved one can enter and exit the home safely. Pay attention to the following issues:
Ensure adequate lighting and increase it as much as possible with high voltage bulbs at every door and walkway
Limit shadows that may cause trip and falls
Keep pathways and the driveway in good repair, free of cracked pavement and different levels that can cause falls
Make sure the driveway and walkway are clear of ice and snow
Paint the outside stairs with a mixture of paint and sand for good traction
Paint the step edges a contrasting color to make it easy to see where to step. Do not use black. Dementia causes black to be read as a black hole
2. Maximize light in the bedrooms and hallways. Trips and falls can occur easily in the middle of the night when seniors may not think to turn the
lights on before venturing to the bathroom or downstairs for a drink of water.
Place night lights in every outlet in the bedroom and hallway
Buy glow-in-the-dark light switches for every bedroom and hallway
Install lights in dark closets. Bright, inexpensive lights with sticky strips on the back area available at hardware and big box stores
Insist that your loved one opens the curtains during the day to take advantage of natural light
If there are unused bedrooms on the same floor as your loved one’s bedroom, install low voltage light bulbs with automatic timers. The low light at night will help to illuminate the hallway.
3. Use visual contrast and safety devices to prevent falls. Visual contrast can help to prevent falls and to make certain tasks easier throughout the household. For example:
Use a non-slip bath mat that is a different color from the tub
Install a contrasting color toilet seat; raised toilet seats are best
Install handrails and grab bars in the bathroom that contrast with the color of the wall
Apply brightly colored, non-slip tape on the edge of each interior stair
Place furniture against a contrasting wall
Use a bath chair or bath bench
4. Keep all interior traffic patterns clear. Clutter is the enemy! Make sure that all surfaces are free of clutter.
Remove all piles and clutter from all entryways, floors, and tables
Remove scatter rugs
Replace uneven flooring and replace or remove ripped carpets
Remove all low pieces of furniture that may cause a trip hazard, such as low tables, plant and magazine stands
Use a simple furniture arrangement that is easy to walk around
5. Increase accessibility and reduce reaching. Reaching up to grab a plate or reaching across to turn off a light can cause imbalance and lead to falls. That’s why it’s important to make everything as easily accessible as possible.
Keep important items like glasses, the TV remote and keys in consistent, visible, easy-to-reach places
Make sure the bedside lamp can be easily reached when your loved one is in bed
Place dishes and glasses that are used daily in easy to reach places
Label cupboards with a list of the contents
Keep walking aids like canes and walkers in easily accessible places where they won’t become trip and fall hazards
Keep emergency contact numbers by the phone in large print
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