How seniors can stay safe during the holidays

The holidays are a time for connecting with family and friends in the spirit of joy. Getting the house ready with festive decorations and lighting is part of an age-old tradition that sets the tone for the season. However, it’s important that older adults consider safety when preparing for the holidays. Falls are common among older adults and can be devastating, causing serious injuries such as fractures and head trauma.

Falls are more likely in the older population for a number of reasons, including changes in balance and mobility. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one-third of older adults age 65 and older fall each year. Whether you are spending the holidays at home or with loved ones, a few tips can help avoid an injury and missing out on time with family and friends.

Decorating for fall prevention

  • Know your limits. When decorating, it’s important to be aware of your physical limitations. If you have difficulty with standing, balancing or take medicines that cause dizziness, confusion or drowsiness, you should avoid decorating that requires the use of a ladder. You might want to ask a loved one to help with this task or considered hired help.
  • Use the right equipment. If you don’t have any standing or balance issues, when hanging lights or decorations that are out of your reach, don’t use chairs or furniture to stand on. Use a ladder and always maintain three points of contact with it. For example, two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand on the ladder. If someone else is available, ask them to help with supporting the base of the ladder.
  • Wear safe footwear. Try to wear non-skid, rubber-soled, low-heeled shoes or lace-up shoes with non-skid soles that fully support your feet. It is important that the soles are not too thin or too thick.
  • Cut down on clutter. Keep your holiday decorations basic and make sure they don’t block walkways. Tuck extension cords out of the way of heavily traveled areas. You may want to avoid putting down festive throw rugs to prevent slips or at least add a non-slip pad underneath them. This is especially important on floors in bathrooms or hallways that tend to be slippery.

Safety when away

If you are spending the holiday with loved ones or friends, you should be careful to avoid tripping hazards in unfamiliar surroundings. Consider the following tips:

  • Wear safe footwear. Don’t walk on stairs or floors in socks or in shoes and slippers with smooth soles.
  • Make sure your path is clear. Look down for electrical cords, unsecured rugs, toys and wrapping paper clutter. Avoid areas where you cannot move around comfortably. 
  • Drink in moderation. Even a small amount of alcohol can affect balance and reflexes.
  • Make sure you can see. When walking indoors or outdoors, make sure that you can see clearly. Turn on a light if indoors or bring a small flashlight, if walking outside. If you are staying overnight in a home where the light switches are not easily accessible, consider bringing a portable night light.

To learn more about prevention or falls or recovery from a fall, contact Rehab First at 877-707-2280.