As a caregiver, one of the biggest concerns I have for my mother is fall prevention. Suffering from lymphodema that has caused her legs to swell, she has extreme difficulty walking and cannot walk without the support of a walker.
So as a caregiver, I needed to take steps to make sure that this wouldn’t occur. This is how I handled the situation:
First, I needed to make sure that my mother had access to a medic alert system that could summon help if she fell, because no amount of fall protection steps can absolutely guarantee that she won’t fall. Such systems are cheap, easy to install and can summon help at the push of the button.
Next, after obtaining the medic alert system the next step was to do everything I could to fall-proof her apartment. Here are the steps my brother and I took to aid in our mother’s fall prevention.
We started in the bathroom because that is where we felt our mother would be most vulnerable.
· We installed grab bars around the tub, shower and toilet.
· Placed a rubber anti-slip mat in the shower or tub she will be using.
· We got a commode for the toilet so that she would be better able to get on and off the toilet.
· Most importantly for us in terms of fall prevention, we installed a shower bench. What this does is allows her to slide in and out of the shower without having to lift her legs over the tub. This is something she cannot do and we needed a safe way for her to get in and out of the shower.
· We made sure the room is well lit.
· We leave a night light on at night so if she has to get up to use the bathroom she isn’t stumbling around in the dark.
· We made sure that her bedside light that is reachable.
· We made sure the carpets, especially area rugs, are skid-proof and tacked to the floor.
· We bought a lift chair for her so that she would be able to get up and down from the chair safely.
· Avoid cluttering the hallways as they are narrow enough for your loved one.
· Make sure there are no cords or other obstructions in the hallways. This is especially true for the hallways between the bathroom and the bedroom.
In addition, if you are counseling your parents as I had to regarding fall prevention, here are some other ideas for you to consider:
· Don’t walk in socks or floppy slippers.
· Wear a low heel or no heel at all.
· Medications-could some of the medications that they are taking for other ailments contribute to the risk of a fall? Ask their doctor to review the medications to see if there is any potential that a mix of medication could contribute to a fall.