Drive Cares

Fall Prevention: Safety First

There are many well-known quotes that illustrate just how important home is to us. “Home sweet home.”  “A man’s house is his castle.” “Home is where the heart is.” Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter wisely quoted, “There is nothing more important than a good, safe, secure home.”

For individuals who are mobility-impaired, whether from illness, injury, physical handicap or advanced age, the world outside of home can present a seemingly endless series of challenges. Wouldn’t it be nice if home could be a place without these challenges…a truly safe and secure haven?  Luckily, there are a wide array of home safety products that can help fulfill this, easing and eliminating challenges of everyday activities for those who are mobility impaired.

Safety first

Falls are the leading cause of injury at home.  According to an AARP study, the primary cause of death among adults 65 and older is falling.  One out of three adults age 65 and older falls each year—with most falls occurring in the home.  Almost a third of those who survive their fall will have to live with injuries that will affect their independence for the rest of their lives, such as hip fractures or head traumas. Those types of injuries not only make it difficult to live independently but can sometimes be fatal.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that there are many ways to prevent falls at home from happening. People who have mobility, balance or vision problems need to thoroughly examine their homes to identify potential hazards. Remove or repair items that may cause tripping and falling, such as raised doorway thresholds, throw rugs and clutter, loose carpet or raised flooring, and furniture and electrical cords obstructing walkways. Make sure that canes and walkers have rubber tips, and if crutches are used, the bottoms should be cleaned regularly with an abrasive substance like steel wool to maintain traction and avoid slippage.

For someone with decreased strength and mobility, just getting up from a chair or opening a door can be difficult.  Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare has devices that provide simple solutions to these problems. A rotating seat cushion like the padded swivel seat cushion is lightweight and portable, and allows individuals to turn up to 360 degrees while seated. Paired with an easy assist pole with rotating handle, individuals can easily and comfortably get on or off any seat or chair independently and with full support. The Doormatic Automatic Door Opener operates internal doors, and is very easily installed without drilling, tools, or structural changes. Because it is installed with Velcro®, it applies to many different surfaces, and comes with obstacle detection for added safety, as well as optional remote control or motion sensor for more severe mobility or strength impairment.

Slippery when wet

Bathrooms are one of the most common in-home accident areas, and for strength- and mobility- impaired individuals, a simple tub mat is not enough to ensure optimal safety. Place non-skid mats inside and outside the shower or tub and near the toilet and sinks.  Drive’s Bath Mat is extra-long to provide a large, slip-proof surface for extra safety, and is made of mold-resistant latex-free rubber.

Inside the tub or shower is about as slippery a spot as you can get, so install grab bars, tub rails and safety seating. One of the major advantages of bath safety products is that they have tool-free installation, which means no damage or drilling into expensive bathroom fixtures or tile. A rotating suction-cup grab bar rotates to any angle. Its large suction cups guarantee an extremely strong hold, while it has indicators to ensure suction stays at a safe level. The clamp-on, height-adjustable tub rail also has easy, tool-free assembly with a patented soft-edge design that does not compromise safety. The shower chair with back and arms is easily height-adjustable and non-slip with an enhanced comfort seat to fit all shapes and sizes. Additionally, a long-handled bath brush, or bath mittens with straps can help make personal hygiene as easy as possible.

Making home a little sweeter

Here are some helpful hints that everyone, mobility-impaired or not, can use to make life easier and safer at home:

  • Use a reaching device like a hand-held reacher so you do not need to climb for items, and store your most commonly used household items on lower shelves for easy reach.
  • If you do have to climb for something, use a step stool with handrails.
  • Do not try to carry too many things at once, and have a place near your door to put packages and groceries down while you close the door and get ready to put items away.
  • Keep your home well-lit, especially stairways, hallways, porches, and outside walkways.
  • Where necessary, add extra light switches or remote switches (like those that go on or off with the clap of hands).

And of course, always maintain smoke alarms on every floor and outside every bedroom. Check the batteries in the alarms regularly, install a carbon monoxide detector with an alarm, and keep a working fire extinguisher in an accessible location.