Each year, 2.8 million elderly people are treated in emergency rooms after experiencing a fall. As much as we at Stander preach “fall prevention” we understand that for most, falling is not a question of if, but rather when. After a hospital stay or emergency room visit, returning home is often a scary and stressful experience for a caregiver. After a fall there will be new limitations and precautions that will need to be taken to ensure the safety and well being of the person who has fallen.

What steps or considerations should you as a caregiver take before returning home after a short or long-term hospital stay after a fall? For a more comprehensive guide on planning and executing a Home Safety Evaluation Assessment, download our guide today.

1. Can you safely transport your loved one home?

Depending on your loved one’s injuries, size, & mobility it may be difficult to help a spouse or parent into your car. Cars that sit low to the ground or SUV’s that sit higher up will be especially difficult. Make sure you have the help you need at the hospital and at home to help your loved one get into and out of your car before your ready to leave. Stander’s auto safety category provides several tools to help you with this process.

2. Can you safely help your loved one into the home?

Things like stairs, sloped driveways, and narrow entryways may not have crossed your mind before the fall. Each presents unique challenges and can be a dangerous obstacle when helping someone return home. Before leaving the hospital, think about alternative entryways into the home. Do you have a walk-in porch that can help you avoid stairs? Are there rugs or clutter around doors that could be tripping hazards? Do you need a gait belt, walker/rollator, ramp, or other assistive devices to help them get from the car into the home?

3. How can you fall-proof key areas of the home?

Consider doing a review of the key areas of the home where falls are most likely to re-occur. Statistics show that once someone has fallen once, they are likely to fall again.  Avoiding these mishaps can help prevent an even more dangerous second fall.

    • Bathroom: Remove rugs, install grab bars, transfer poles, toilet seat frames, and non slip mats in the shower.
    • Bedroom: Remove necessities from night stands. Install bed assist handles or rails. Remove rugs and any tripping hazards. If the bedroom is only accessible by stairs, consider alternative places in the home to use as a bedroom.
    • Living Room: Remove tripping hazards from floor (rugs, décor, wires/cords). Use a standing or transfer aid on a favorite couch, chair, or lift chair. Evaluate all thresholds where flooring transitions from one type to another.

4. What can you do to make life as normal as possible?

Aging and fall prevention requires some changes to the home and routines. But doing things to keep the home feeling like home can go a long way to improve physical and mental health. Use aids to daily living such as walkers, scooters, standing aids or other items to keep your loved one moving, getting out of the house, and being independent. Find aids that blend in with your home so that it does not feel like a hospital.

5. What outside help and resources are available?

Depending on the severity of the injuries and the length of time it may take to recover, you as the caregiver may not have the knowledge or resources necessary to properly remedy the situation. Research local companies who can provide nursing or rehab therapy assistance until your loved one is back on his or her feet. Websites like https://www.ageinplace.org/ provide amazing information on how and where to look for help in these circumstances.

Home Medical Equipment (HME) stores across the country are well-equipped with both the know-how and the resources to help. You can find your nearest HME store using the Where to Buy tool on our website. These home medical experts can provide in-home consultations to help prepare a safety plan specifically tailored to your home.

For more ideas on how to prepare your home for the return of a loved one, check out our HOME SAFETY EVALUATION CHECKLIST.