The risk of falling increases with age. Every year, millions of older adults aged 65 and over experience a fall. Seniors who fall once double their risk of falling again. Caregivers, however, can follow these five tips to prevent elderly loved ones from falling and suffering a fracture or disability.
Falls are a serious event. One out of every five falls causes broken bones in the elderly. Three million seniors are admitted to the emergency room each year for fall-related injuries. Head injuries and hip fractures that result from a fall send 800,000 older patients to the hospital.
When seniors experience a fall and suffer injuries, like a broken wrist, arm, ankle, or fractured hip, their quality of life can tumble. Injuries like these can make it difficult for the aging person to move around and perform the activities of daily living independently.
A fear of falling can develop in seniors who have fallen before. This gripping fear is responsible for their hesitancy to engage in everyday activities. A senior who remains inactive for prolonged periods becomes weaker, and a weakened constitution increases the risk for additional falls.
Certain risk factors increase the likelihood of falls in the elderly. Seniors are more likely to fall when they experience lower body weakness or vision problems or have difficulty with walking and balance. The use of sedatives, tranquilizers, and antidepressants can also contribute to falls.
Hazards in the home can lead to falls. Clutter along walkways can cause a senior to trip and fall. Broken or uneven steps are also dangerous. Seniors can stumble over throw rugs that haven’t been secured to the floor. A combination of the abovementioned risk factors is responsible for falls.
Tip 1: Speak to the Doctor
Although millions of seniors fall each year, only half of them report the event to their doctor. It’s important for seniors to openly discuss fall risks and how they can be prevented. Seniors who feel unsteady or afraid of falling should notify their doctor right away.
Also review current medications with the doctor or pharmacist. Certain drugs can cause side effects, such as dizziness or sleepiness, which can contribute to falls. Even herbal supplements and over-the-counter medicine can increase the risk of an elderly person falling.
Tip 2: Visit the Optometrist
Caregivers should schedule an annual eye exam for their elderly loved one. The eye doctor will check for common age-related eye conditions, like glaucoma and cataracts, both of which can limit vision and increase the risk for falls. Seniors should update their eyeglasses, if needed.
Older people who wear bifocals or progressive lenses may want to consider wearing a second pair of eyeglasses with only their distance prescription when engaging in outdoor activities, like walking. The distance of objects appears more accurately when wearing the right type of lens.
Tip 3: Wear Proper Shoes
The senior’s feet should be medically examined if pain or foot problems occur. Ask for recommendations for footwear that decreases the risk of falls. Shoes with a flat heel have firm contact with the ground and are ideal. Avoid shoes with high heels, and those that are stretched and loose.
At home, seniors should wear footwear with non-slip soles. Do not provide the senior with socks and slippers to wear inside the home. Similarly, seniors should avoid flip flops because they fit poorly and can be dangerous to wear. Opt for shoes with Velcro fasteners, which can be adjusted.
Tip 4: Exercise
Caregivers should schedule regular exercise sessions into the senior’s day. A recommended exercise program is one that strengthens the senior’s leg muscles and improves balance. Tai Chi, one-legged balancing, leg raises, and standing marches are all exercises that can reduce falls.
Walking is another easy and accessible form of exercise that will prevent falls. Seniors can walk inside shopping malls, museums, or other public places. Caregivers can enroll their elderly loved ones in walking programs or exercise classes at the local senior center.
Tip 5: Modify the Home
The home can be littered with hazards. Caregivers are urged to modify the home so that it is safer for the senior. Install grab bars in the bathroom to help older adults stabilize. Secure carpets to the floors and move all electrical cords away from walking paths.
Arrange furniture so they are not in the senior’s way when they walk. Install good lighting at the top and bottom of the stairs—and ensure the stairs have handrails. Plug in nightlights close to the senior’s bed. Remove clutter, like books, clothes, and shoes, from the floor.
Caregivers can implement the above fall-prevention tips and minimize the fall risk in their elderly loved ones. When family caregivers struggle to meet all the daily care needs of an older adult and help keep them safe at home, Assisting Hands Home Care becomes an immediate, practical solution.
Our home care agency is staffed with professional caregivers who provide reliable care services to seniors. Fall safety is a priority for our caregivers. We routinely perform fall-risk assessments, remove clutter from walkways, keep the home clean, and assist the senior with mobility.
Senior home care is especially invaluable to older adults who live alone. Not only do our caregivers look after their safety and well-being, but we also serve as pleasant companions. Our companion caregivers engage seniors, keeping them socially active, and preventing loneliness and isolation.
Companion care from Assisting Hands Home Care is comprehensive. Non-medical services our caregivers provide include healthy meal preparation, grocery shopping, help with personal hygiene, transportation to the eye doctor, foot doctor or physician’s office, light housekeeping, and timely medication reminders.
Fall safety becomes more important as seniors age. Keep your elderly loved one safe and healthy by incorporating Assisting Hands Home Care into their daily schedule. Our senior care agency serves seniors living in Collegeville, King of Prussia, Limerick, Norristown, West Norriton, PA and the surrounding areas. Call us at (610) 795-2896 today to schedule a complimentary in-home assessment.