“Our Aging In Place Emphasis On Reducing Falls Is Even More Important This Time Of Year”

Icy conditions can be treacherous for our visitors this holiday season and we don’t want the felloeship and festivities spoiled by an accident

Over the next several days, many of us are going to be visiting friends, neighbors, and relatives, or we are going to have them visiting us to celebrate the holidays and look forward to the new year. Home safety – especially eliminating, preventing, or avoiding falls – needs to a top priority for us in order to have people that visit our clients or come into our homes enjoy the visits. We want everyone to go home at the end of the visit injury-free.

While fall prevention and general safety should be a continuous focus for us as we evaluate homes and how people use them, it is even more important now because people are going to be in a festive mood, the weather could also make driveways, walkways, and porches slippery, and there may be some adult beverages involved. People may not be concentrating on avoiding falls or remaining safe because they are going to be more focused on enjoying each other’s company. Therefore, we have to anticipate that people may let their guard down a little.

As we know, there are many types of possible injuries in the home that could affect someone’s enjoyment of the holiday season – burns (from matches, candles, hot appliances, fireplaces, and heaters), cuts, slips and falls, walking into objects, or having something fall and land on a hand or foot. We want people to go home after a night of festivities the same way they arrived.

We know that as much as we try to prevent falls and other injuries that they still can happen. We have to be extra diligent to make sure that our homes are as free as possible of possible hazards. This includes identifying areas that aren’t well lit (including replacing burned out or missing bulbs) and correcting this and making sure that approaches to the home are free of ice or other potential slippery conditions. If we have area rugs or runners, they need to be securely anchored.

There might be objects present that we hardly notice such as toys (from children or grandchildren), things that the dogs or cats play with, and light cords and other decorations that we have now that are not present throughout most of the year.

There are just so many things in and about a person’s home that can cause slips, falls, other other accidents. Regardless of the potential severity of a fall, slip, cut, or other incidents, the objective is to eliminate as many potential causes for such conditions as we can. We know that people are not going to be as diligent as they might be normally because they are in a festive mood and not necessarily looking out for what might be an unsafe condition for them.

As is often the case when it comes to home safety, we have to look out for our guests and visitors as well the people who normally occupy the space. We get preoccupied with other tasks we are doing (preparing food or snacks, setting the table or the buffet, serving the food, picking up dishes, refilling glasses, or even wiping up spills) that we don’t always think of safety first. We may be carrying too much, blocking our vision, or trying to balance too many items at a time.
There are just so many things going on with hosting a party or a small gathering of friends, relatives, or neighbors that safety details can get overlooked. The more we are aware of how people use their homes and the potential for danger that exists in living in and getting around in their dwelling space, the more we can point out and correct obvious trouble spots when we see them or alert them to the special risks that are going to be present during this holiday season.
Of course, we need to pay particular attention to our guests who might be using some type of mobility device (walker, wheelchair, crutches, cane, or leg brace), those with poor or impaired vision, and those who may not have the balance or coordination that they used to have. Knowing that glare – especially from holiday lights – can mask items from view or confuse our eyes to where seeing the edges of objects or being able to perceive or recognize where they are in relation to other items in the room becomes a safety concern.
Maintaining a safe home environment is not easy, but we have to remain diligent. Otherwise, people are going to be at risk this time of year (and at other times as well) in their living environment or the one they are visiting, and this is something that we don’t want to have happen.
Share with your friend and colleagues!