An aging population could mean more instances of fall-related injuries in North Carolina. According to statewide data, more than 75 percent of falls occur in adults over 65. In the United States, injuries resulting from a fall happen more frequently at home than anywhere else. Figuring out what precautions to plan and budget for to reduce the risk of falling in the home can help put you and your loved one on solid footing.
Cover the small stuff first
Inside you can make your home a little less fall-friendly. As we age, we become less agile than we used to be. It gets harder to climb stairs and getting in and out of a tub can present a real challenge. That’s when it’s time to reconsider how your living space is set up.
Start with small additions like nightlights in hallways. Consider installing a second handrail on the staircase. Even with the addition of handrails, stairs can be a falling hazard. So, remove loose carpet or replace worn stair treads. Install bathroom grab rails and add slip-resistant surfaces to better help your loved one keep their balance.
Depending on the available space in your home, you may opt to move your parent into a downstairs bedroom or reconfigure another first-floor space. Home renovations such as upgrading a bathroom with a walk-in tub or adding a chair lift may be needed. This is where hiring a professional might be the best idea if you’re not a do-it-yourself person.
Outside, consider hiring a professional to replace warped or broken wood planks on decks. Illuminate walkways and clear any loose gravel from driveways that may have spilled over on to concrete walks. Removing tripping hazards can help avoid twisted ankles or falling.
Make prevention a family goal
While seniors are most at risk for a fall in the home, it’s a good idea to make prevention a priority for everyone in the family. A spill on a hardwood floor could mean a trip to the emergency room for a broken limb. Here’s a few things you can do:
- Get routine eye exams. Vision tests can go a long way in helping identify obstacles that could result in a fall.
- Eat right and get regular muscle-building exercise. Activities that enhance balance and coordination can help prevent falls.
- Choose your footwear carefully. If you have hard or vinyl flooring, the soles should be non-slip and not too thick. If you prefer socks in the house, opt for those with a non-slip padding on them.
- Check your carpeting. If you use throw rugs, make sure the backing has a good grip to the flooring. Fix edges that are not flat to the floor. Or if you have carpeted floors, make sure to remove loose fibers. Fix any spots that may be a tripping hazard.
If you’re planning a major renovation and don’t have enough cash available, consider LGFCU’s Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) to cover this cost. A HELOC is a line of credit that allows you to borrow against the value your home has built up. It’s open-ended, so you can withdraw only the money you need as you need it within a specific time frame. When you’re ready to apply, log in to Member Connect or call 888.732.8562.
The advice provided is for informational purposes only. Contact a financial advisor for additional guidance. All loan applications are subject to approval.