Australia is slowly growing older. Residents over 65 make up more than 15 percent of the population, and that number is expected to rise in the next few years. Regular homes have proven unsafe for the nation’s growing number of elderly, with more than 1-in-3 of them suffering from accidental falls in their own home.
Accidental slips and falls are the leading cause of accidental death and injury among people over 65. These kinds of accidents send more people to the hospital than transport-related injuries — even in more urban cities like Melbourne and Sydney. Close to 40 percent of elderly hospital admissions involve slips and falls, compared to only 13 percent for car accidents. Every year, 1 out of 4 people over the age of 60 will suffer a fall. At 65 and over, the chances increase to 1-in-3. At 80 and over, the chances are 1-in-2. Slips and falls are particularly dangerous to the elderly.
Bone density degrades with age, leading to conditions like osteoporosis and osteopenia. More than 1 million Australians have been diagnosed with these 2 conditions, but experts believe the actual number is far higher. 5-10 percent of falls result in fractures, particularly in the wrists, hip, trunk, and neck. Hip fractures can be particularly dangerous. 1-in-3 adults over the age of 50 will pass within a year of injuring their hip.
More Than Just Injury
Falls can be life-changing. Reduced mobility can strip away independence as people suffering from the aftermath of falls will have to rely on others for their day-to-day activities. 40 percent of residential aged care admissions are due to incidents of falling. Getting injured also leads to a fear of falling and a drop in confidence. Elderly individuals may refrain from their usual activities and opt to live a more sedentary lifestyle.
Making Houses Safer
Most slips and falls happen inside the house, and just a few changes can make your house safer. Get rid of rugs and mats. They can slip from under you or get tangled up on your cane or walking device. Keep the floor clear of unnecessary obstructions (vases, toys, etc.) and add a few support rails in parts where the floor dips or rises.
Stay on the ground floor as much as possible and opt for residential lifts if you have the money. Stairs can be hard on the knees, and going downstairs without assistance can be dangerous. Once you get older, your vision will be closely tied to your balance. Opt for motion-detecting lights or run a system into your house that automatically turns on essential lights at a given time so that you won’t be fumbling in the dark.
Focusing on Bathrooms
Bathrooms are the most dangerous rooms in elderly homes, accounting for 80 percent of falls in any given home. Non-slip flooring is essential, as well as grab bars in certain areas. Supports near the bathroom toilet is particularly important. Getting on and off the toilet puts a lot of strain on the knees, and changing positions can disrupt your balance and cause vertigo.
Opt for a tall toilet or install platforms that would make the seat higher. You can easily find these platforms for sale online or in shops that focus on the elderly. Showers and baths can be problematic, but a walk-in tub should solve most issues. Walk-in tubs are specifically designed with the elderly in mind, and they allow elderly individuals to soak comfortably while safely sitting down.
Slips and falls are almost unavoidable as one grows older. However, a few changes in your house can minimize or even eliminate their risk, allowing you to stay independent and live a happier and longer life.