Falls are the leading cause of injury for people over 65. The CDC reports that 1 out of every 5 falls causes serious injury, and the majority of those falls happen at home. Fortunately, they can be prevented.
CEO, Caregiver Action Network
Start with a walk-through of your home to look for any possible hazards. Remove throw rugs, or use double-sided tape or non-stick backing so the rugs won’t slip. Make sure there is a clear path to walk through a room. Get rid of any clutter. Check to see that handrails are not loose and that there is a handrail on both sides of the stairs. Place a lamp or other light source near the bed, and have a nightlight in case your loved one needs to use the bathroom during the night.
The most dangerous room in the house for falls is the bathroom. Consider installing grab bars in the bathtub and by the toilet. Place non-skid strips or a non-slip mat on the floor of the bathtub or shower, and have a non-skid rug or mat on the floor to prevent falls.
In addition to modifications around the house, exercising helps maintain muscle strength and improves balance. Vision problems make people more than twice as likely to fall as those without visual impairment, so make sure your loved one has their vision checked regularly. If your loved one wears glasses, make sure their prescription is current.
Keeping your loved one safe
As a caregiver, managing your loved one’s medication is crucial. People with chronic diseases or disabilities take more medications, so it’s important to keep an up-to-date medication list. A medication list should include the name of the drug, dosage, start and stop dates, what the medication looks like, any record of side effects, and what the drug is treating.
If your loved one has Alzheimer’s or dementia, make sure that hazardous materials like cleaning supplies, knives and scissors, medication, and any toiletries that could be harmful if ingested are locked away. To prevent burns, fire, or smoke inhalation, remove the knobs on the stove and place them in a drawer, or try safety knob covers.
Take care of yourself, too
As a family caregiver, you need to take care of your health so you can be strong enough to care for your loved one. Being a family caregiver is stressful. It affects you physically and emotionally. It can have an impact on your finances, career, and other relationships. Caregiver burnout is a real thing, bringing symptoms such as depression, frustration, anxiety, and fatigue.
Caregiver Action Network has tips and tools that can help caregivers avoid burnout, stay healthy, and maintain some sense of balance in your life while caregiving. Check out our 10 Tips for Family Caregivers, or contact our free Caregiver Help Desk, staffed by caregiving experts, to help you get the support you need.
We all want to keep our loved ones safe and living the best life possible. By taking care of yourself, you’ll be able to be a better caregiver for them and keep yourself safe and healthy as well.