Every year millions of older adults suffer a fall. Luckily, there are practical steps you can take today to keep your stairway safe and lower your risk of becoming a statistic in your own home.
Falls are the top cause of injuries – including fatal injuries – for seniors, according to the CDC. In 2010 alone, more than 2 million older adults were treated in emergency rooms for nonfatal falls. Of these, more than 660,000 were hospitalized.
Taking precautions is a must if you or a loved one is an older adult with a stairway in the home. The following 7 steps are easy measures to take but can make a big difference in your safety.
7 Steps to Avoiding Falls on the Stairs
1. Make sure your stairway is lit well
You are less likely to trip and fall over a hazard you can see rather than one that is hidden in the dark. So flip on that switch before you take the stairs!
2. Use a strong handrail
A handrail can help you keep your balance – Just make sure it’s very sturdy. Don’t have a handrail? Install one promptly but note that you must have the upper body strength to hold on if you slip. Otherwise, the rail won’t do you any good.
3. Wear shoes with rubber soles
Climbing stairs in bare feet or in slippers can be risky business, particularly if you have a slick wooden staircase. Instead, slip on a pair of shoes before you go up or down the stairs.
4. Exercise – Even just a little
Climbing the stairs shouldn’t be the only exercise you get all day. In fact, exercise can strengthen your legs, which can help tremendously with your balance .
5. Get your vision checked regularly
If you are wearing the wrong prescription or no prescription at all, you may not clearly see the hazards that stand in your way on your stairs. Get your vision checked annually.
6. Give your stairway a second look
Taking an unbiased survey of your staircase could eliminate risks you have overlooked. Do you place clothing, books, papers or other items on your stairs? Could you trip over an item that is placed there? Keep your stairway clear to decrease the risk that you will trip and fall.
7. Choose a quality stair lift
No matter how many other precautions you take, getting a stair lift for your home is often the best and safest option. Stair lifts practically eliminate the risk of a fall on the stairs, all while providing their own safety features. Allied stair lifts, for example, include a safety belt and a powered swivel-seat for a safer exit at the top and bottom of the staircase. Allied stair lifts also automatically stop when they sense an obstruction.
Whether you have already experienced a fall or want to take all of the steps you can to prevent a fall before it happens, these measures are a good place to begin. In fact, you can lower your risk of a fall even further by combining several of these steps. Even if you get a stair lift, you will also want to make sure your stairway is lit and clear of obstructions!
Your needs and your specific challenges will dictate which steps are best in your situation. The most important thing to remember, however, is that installing a stair lift and taking other measures means that older adults can be safe – and stay safe – in their own homes while lowering the risk of a painful fall.