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More older adults dying from falls: How to keep your house safe

How to prevent your fall hazards at home
Posted at 10:06 AM, May 11, 2018

A new warning has come that more older adults, over the age of 65, are dying from falls.

According to the Centers for Disease Control it's increased from about 18,000 a decade ago to 30,000 in 2016. That number could climb to as many as 59,000 by 2030. Luckily falls are preventable. Here are the main things you can do to keep your house safe.

These are small changes you can start making now even if you're not over 65 or not concerned about falling. Jason McCullough with Brothers Redevelopment Inc. walked The Now through a house to show some of those changes. The best part is they're relatively easy.

McCullough said some of the changes actually start before you get inside the house.

"Most falls happen (in) main entry areas, kitchens and baths," McCullough said.

According to McCullough a grab bar is a versatile tool that can help in any room.

"They come in a kind of a decorative finish," McCullough said. "This one's brushed steel.  So we usually place these in a bathroom. We'll do a vertical installation for transitions in and out of the tub. And then sometimes we'll also place a diagonal installation so that when you're in the tub you have more safety and stability."

McCullough showed how it should look.

"It's at a height where she can grab it," McCullough said. "It's on a vertical next to the tub. So she can use that getting in and out of the tub, so it's a great transitional stability piece."

He said tubs can be an area prone for falls.

"You have these custom tubs," McCullough said. "Obviously they're raised so they're a little higher than your normal tub is, but it's still, you can see it's below my knee, so that's much more of a fall risk 'cause you're going to catch that and you can't really catch yourself and you're going all the way in. But if you have this, you have something to hold on to."

Transitions from room to room can be fall hazards as well.

"So this would be an issue right here because we have a rise in the floor and this transition's a little thin," McCullough said as he pointed to a change in floor height in a threshold.  "We'd want to see a wider, more sloped transition piece here or we'd want the floor installed level with the other existing floor."

McCullough said fall dangers can even be outdoors. He pointed out several issues in the backyard.

"This is a great example of where we get comfortable and we miss things over the years," McCullough said, as he pointed to steps without rails.  "Our houses age just like we do.  And as we get older, a lot of times our eyesight starts to go, their motor skills start to slip and they don't notice things that they would have, or someone new to their house would have noticed.  And just this kind of little small ledge here, this could be a trip hazard and you don't have anything to grab onto if you do trip and fall."

Another thing to consider is if you find yourself always grabbing the wall or you visit a loved one and you notice marks on the wall, that may be a sign that it's time to consider these upgrades.