Preventive steps reduce seniors’ risks of falls, injuries

Balance exercises at Fysical Therapy and Balance Center in Melbourne Beach help seniors maintain mobility in their homes and lives.

Fall-proofing a home and yard are important steps to take for a senior’s safety.

Maritza Martinez, a therapist with Parrish Home Health, recently offered several pointers.

“In the kitchen, items such as pots, pans and appliances need to be within reach. This will avoid falls from a step stool,” she said.

In the shower, grab bars provide added safety.

“Aging Matters in Brevard will install them for free or a donation, provided the recipient owns the house,” Martinez said. “Non-skid mats also help with shower safety, as do shower chairs and shower heads with a hose, which can be used while sitting.”

If a toilet is too low, a 3-in-1 commode can be used as a bedside commode, an elevated toilet seat and a toilet safety frame.

In the bedroom, bed skirts are tripping hazards. They can be removed or cut shorter.

In the living room, some sofas are low and difficult to rise from. Standing aids and other safety assists are available online or in home medical equipment stores.

Recliners can present standing challenges and can be raised by boost platforms.

Martinez urges seniors to avoid chairs with wheels or that swivel because they present tripping hazards.

Throw rugs are best removed because they bunch up and are easy to trip on.

It’s best to avoid flip-flops. Flimsy design increases the chance of falling.

“For those who don’t wear shoes at home, non-skid socks can be worn,” Martinez said.

Especially at night, keep hallways well-lighted and place bright stickers on stairs. Hand railings on both sides of stairs add safety.

Yards present their own challenges, such as uneven ground and cracks in pavement. The ground can be smoothed, but some expense is involved.

Wet leaves can be slippery.

While bones become more fragile as we grow older and might lead to osteoporosis, seniors can practice exercises to lessen the severity of an injury in the event of a fall.

“I encourage simple daily, weight-bearing exercises that put stress on bones, strengthening them,” Martinez said.

“Balance, coordination, muscle strength, flow of walking and confidence are also factors,” said Haley Colpitts, a marketing liaison for Fyzical Therapy and Balance Center in Melbourne Beach.

“So is a nutritious diet rich in calcium and magnesium, which also aid in brain health. Staying hydrated is important. It keeps us alert,” she said.