Fall Prevention Month: Christmas Gifts with Love and Safety
BY MARGUERITE THOMAS
Our love and protection are the greatest gifts we can give to those we care about. This holiday season, please consider showing your love by giving gifts that help promote safety and prevent injury. For more information on fall prevention for older adults, check out www.findingbalanceontario.ca
Here are some ideas from the Fall Prevention Community of Practice. Select gifts for travelling:
• emergency kit for the car
• car blankets and extra warm clothing such as mitts and toques
• cellular phone or calling card
• taxi vouchers
• non-alcoholic beverages for holiday celebrations when away
• subscription to travel protection plan
• extra night lights or flashlights for when staying at hotels or bedrooms away from home.
Select gifts which help prevent unintentional falls:
• Cordless telephones
• Personal protection alarm
• Grip bars for the bathtub and toilet
• Small clothes baskets or carriers which avoid awkwardness and overbalance
• Non-alcoholic beverages for holiday celebrations at home
• Specialty safety items from your pharmacy or therapy retailer (such as a hand gripper for reaching high places)
• Assistive devices ranging from canes to wheelchairs
• A pill dispenser from your pharmacy and a medication record book
• Boots with a good grip on the soles
• Gift certificates for sturdy walking shoes and snowshoes
• Warm outer clothing
• Housecoats short enough to prevent tripping
• Firm slippers with a non-slip sole
• Bag of salt/sand mixture, kitty litter or special de-icer friendly to shrubs and sidewalk
• Nightlights in home bathrooms and bedrooms.
You can also offer your help by offering to:
• Paint a contrasting colour strip on the edges of stairs that are all one colour
• Replace or install railings on stairs that allow a person with a small hand to grasp it
• Shovel snow or arrange for someone else to do it
• Do household chores that require lifting, reaching or using the stairs or a ladder
• Do, or have someone else do a home safety assessment
• Accompany the person for a medication assessment with a pharmacist or physician
• Create a list of emergency phone numbers in large print and have it laminated.
Select items which protect everyone in the home include:
• Smoke detectors or batteries for the smoke detector
• CO monitors
• Fire extinguishers (talk to your insurance agent)
• Safety items for the stove, fireplace or barbecue, including oven mitts the person will use
• Safe and sturdy step stools or ladders
• Renovation of unsafe stairs or any other hazards in the home
• Repair of any wobbly furniture
• A large canvas bag to put on the stairway so items won’t be left loose to trip over
• Bath mats or adhesives to avoid slipping in the tub
• Floor mats with safe backing for outside the tub to absorb moisture and prevent falling
• Bright light bulbs
• Arrange for extra electrical wiring for any poorly lit areas to avoid overloaded outlets
• Replacement of any electrical appliances that need a new cord or plug
• Welcome mats and large indoor mats or trays to absorb moisture from wet boots
• Motion sensor lights for outside.
Items can also help to prevent injuries for caregivers:
• Bidet-style toilet so the caregiver does not have to lean over client for cleansing
• Temporary poles to assist the client in and out of bed and on and off toilet
• Wayfinding poles to provide support while walking instead of leaning on the caregiver.
For more information on innovation in personal safety and home design, check out the amazing work of my colleagues at Toronto Rehab Institute, which is home to some of the world’s most technologically advanced rehabilitation research facilities. The iDAPT Centre for Rehabilitation Research brings together the brightest research minds and state-of-the-art technology.
Have a safe and happy holiday season. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.