If you’ve ever had broken a bone, you know it can be slow and painful to recover from one. There are also complications that can arise if a bone doesn’t heal properly. These risks are compounded if you’re older, with broken bones increasing the risk of death for seniors for up to a decade. What’s worse is that broken bones are extremely common for seniors, especially since our bodies become more fragile as we age. Prevention is key to avoiding the risks of fractures and fragile and broken bones.
We’ve already covered a few lifestyle changes you can make to prevent breaking a bone, like exercising and eating a bone-friendly diet, but there are also some environmental changes you can make to decrease your chances of fractures. It only makes sense that you try to protect yourself from fractures in the place you spend the most time — home!
Remove Fall Risks
If you’re looking to prevent broken bones, the best place to start is to prevent falls. Falls are one of the most common causes of fractures for people 65 and older, accounting for 87 percent of them! They can also cause serious, life-threatening injuries. Where should you start with fall-proofing your home?
The first step you should take is to declutter your floors. Unsecured clutter on the floors can easily become a slipping hazard, especially around stairs. This is something you need to keep up with, because even a single misplaced piece of clutter could cause a fall that ends in a broken hip or arm. Additionally, check if all rugs on the floor in the house are secured to the floor or replaced with non-slip versions. Getting up off the floor, if you have stairs, make sure the railings are sturdy, and won’t break when you need them. Additionally, check that the steps are secure, so they don’t make you lose your footing. In the bathroom, another common fall area in the home, keep the floors from getting wet and slick.
For more ways you can prevent falls in the house, check out our full post on this topic, “How to Prevent Fall Risks for Seniors at Home!”
Soften the Floor
As much as you can try, you may not be able to entirely prevent falls. Fortunately, you can take precautions in the event you do fall. Specifically, looking for ways to soften your fall can help minimize the damage. One way to do this is to keep soft furniture around the home. The benefits of this are twofold. First, it gives you something to catch yourself on should you fall. Secondly, should you fall on the furniture, you’ll have fallen a shorter distance onto a softer surface. Together, this may help prevent some fractures.
But, you can’t (and shouldn’t!) have every square inch of your home covered by furniture. You should also find ways to soften the floor itself. If you have carpeting, you’re already a step ahead, though you may want to replace it if it’s old and compressed. Alternatively, you can put some padding underneath your current carpeting to further cushion your fall. If you have hardwood or vinyl flooring, you can look into getting padded rugs to cover the high-traffic areas of your home, just make sure they’re secured to the floor if you put them down. Another option, if you have some money put away, is to install special impact-absorbing flooring, which has been shown to decrease injuries from falling.
Be Kind to Yourself
One way you can get yourself into a risky situation is by pushing yourself to do things you likely shouldn’t be doing. If your balance isn’t what it used to be, climbing a ladder isn’t likely a great idea. Lifting something heavier than you should is an easy to way get a stress fracture. Trying to get up on a chair to grab something when you’ve struggled to do so in the past can lead to slipping and falling. If you have the chance, find ways to help yourself avoid or mitigate these risky situations that crop up in your life. Ask a family member to climb up on the ladder or lift that heavy box for you or have your significant other get items out of your reach. There’s no shame in asking for help.
There won’t always be someone around to help you, though, so you can help yourself by giving yourself every advantage possible. If your balance is starting to go, use a cane around the house to add stability and strength to your gait. Keep important things you use often, like your phone, pills, or TV remote, near your chair, so you don’t need to get up to reach them. You can also look into an extended grabber tool to reach things so you don’t have to. Finally, you should also keep your home well-lit, whether with natural lighting or light fixtures, around the house. Proper lighting can help you spot fall hazards around the house.
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A fracture can be a massive detriment to the life quality and expectancy of seniors around the country. Your home is a safe space for you, and you shouldn’t have to constantly worry about falling or breaking bones within your walls. Make smart lifestyle and environmental changes, and you can help protect yourself from these risks.