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Aging in Place: How to Stay Safe in the Bedroom

Falls are one of the biggest risks for people in their senior years and many falls occur within the home. Falls inside the home are particularly dangerous if nobody is around to witness them and help. The most dangerous and most common place for falls is in the bathroom, but another common place for falls in the home is in the bedroom.

In the bedroom there are many fall hazards and they can be difficult to recognize. Let’s discuss some of them:

Higher Beds:
As we grow older, our need for higher beds grows because we cannot bend as far as we once used to. Higher beds are wonderful for people with back, knee, or hip problems. Higher beds are also fall risks for two main reasons. Occasionally the beds are adjusted to the wrong height and end up being too high. This can cause a person to have to hop into the bed. Hopping into bed as a senior is definitely a high risk because seniors already typically lack the grace and balance of younger folks. If a person is trying to hop into bed, the risk is much higher that they will fall over in the process. Having a higher bed is also a risk because falling out of bed from a greater height is going to pose a greater risk of serious damage being done. Consider putting up bed rails and/or having a soft mat to land on beside the bed to help prevent fall damage.

Clutter in the bedroom+ poor lighting:
Most people have a habit of keeping a lot of things in their rooms. Most people also cannot see the clutter in the middle of the night when they get up to go to the bathroom. Having a lot of obstacles in the room, especially in the pathway between the bed and the bathroom or the bed and the bedroom door is very dangerous for anyone, especially older adults. Many times when we wake up in the middle of the night, we are disoriented and just focused on getting our needs taken care of and getting back to bed. We are not always conscious of obstacles especially those that are lower to the ground like small boxes, shoes, cords, and other low to the ground objects. Not being aware of the exact location of these things, the grogginess of middle of the night waking, and the low visibility all combine to make the risk of a fall exponentially greater than in a well lit room in the middle of the day. To avoid this issue, make sure that all of the fall risk, low to the ground items are arranged in such a manner that you have a clear path to the bathroom and to the door of the bedroom. You may also want to consider the lighting aspect, maybe have some clap on, clap off lights put in or have a lamp by the bedside.

Another thing that can help minimize the damage of nighttime falls is having a phone very near the bed and having someone call to check on you early in the morning to make sure you are doing all right. Have an emergency procedure in place in case of a fall. Perhaps even invest in a fall alarm so that someone is automatically notified if you fall during the night. That way if you fall and hit your head or break a bone that incapacitates you, you will not be left helpless.

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