Regardless of age, anyone can suffer from an accidental fall. Changes in the weather, distractions during a busy day, or even walking in a new area are just a few of the reasons someone may slip or trip. Many people find that falling is embarrassing; however, a simple fall can be far more dangerous for older adults.
Getting older increases the likelihood of falling, which can be frightening. Seniors often suffer hip fractures, cut wrists and fingers, or brain damage from falling. Educating yourself and preventing falls within your home are the keys to reducing the risk of a dangerous fall.
Whether there is an injury or not, a fall may be so frightening for seniors that they avoid certain activities for fear of falling again. Unfortunately, this can create a vicious cycle whereby a person’s physical condition deteriorates, increasing their risk of falls and further decreasing their independence and quality of life. It is therefore imperative that seniors receive fall prevention as part of their eldercare.
While you may not be able to stop seniors from falling, you can help reduce their chances of falling. Taking a holistic view will help you identify all the factors contributing to falls in the elderly. To prevent falls when caring for a loved one, you should take the following precautions:
In order to prevent falls, exercising helps maintain the strength of stabilizing muscles. Active seniors can maintain their health longer than sedentary seniors through regular walking or light exercise.
Identify the right exercise program for seniors. If you want, you may consult your physician regarding the type of exercise program that is best. Exercise improves muscles and increases strength. Keeping joints, tendons, and ligaments flexible is important for older people. In addition, taking light weight-bearing activities, such as walking or climbing stairs, can slow down the loss of bone from osteoporosis.
In senior living communities, seniors can also exercise together. Exercising together makes it more enjoyable. Not only do seniors improve their balance and make their legs stronger to reduce the likelihood of falling, but they also have the chance to socialize. One example of what they can do is Tai Chi.
Clean Up Clutter
Maintaining a clean and tidy environment is the easiest way to prevent falls – there may be hazards in the living room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, hallway, and staircase. Whether it’s a small amount of clothing on the stairs or a toy dropped by a grandchild, anything left on the stairs is dangerous.
Have a look around you. Make sure to inspect every room and hallway for items such as loose carpet, slippery throw rugs, or sticks on the floor. Those items must be repaired, removed, or replaced for greater fall prevention effectiveness.
You can also tame an unruly extension cord. Again, it’s better to get rid of them entirely than to tape them to the floor.
Have Eyes Checked
Have your senior’s eyes checked once a year by an eye doctor and check their eyeglasses if needed. It’s common for seniors to have eye conditions such as glaucoma and cataracts that affect their vision. It is more likely for them to fall when they have poor vision.
Wear Comfortable Clothing and Shoes
In addition to environmental factors, an older person may also be carrying a fall hazard around with their clothing. If the clothing is too tight, the body may overheat and restrict blood flow, leading to short-term memory loss and motor skill decline in an older adult. Additionally, loose clothing can be a problem: it can become tangled in doors, windows, or furniture, causing them to fall.
Also, while socks may be comfortable, they pose a slipping hazard. A simple solution to preventing falls is to wear shoes. Shoes should fit well and have non-slip soles. Choose your senior’s footwear based on the ease of use, not the ease of getting them on and taking them off. Using Velcro straps can make it much easier to tighten or loosen your shoes. Additionally, they eliminate the risk of tripping over long laces.
Use Appropriate Lighting
Inadequate lighting constitutes another major safety hazard. Among senior living communities, the majority of falls occur because of vision problems or limitations. However, these risks can be reduced if adequate lighting is used and appropriate lighting is maintained. In addition, nightlights are recommended in bedrooms and bathrooms to improve nighttime navigation.
As a related matter, assess the locations of light switches. People in wheelchairs may have trouble reaching these items.
Talk to a Doctor
It is important to have a doctor or pharmacist review all of the seniors’ medications, including over-the-counter medicines. As we age, the way medicine works in our bodies changes. For example, seniors can fall due to certain medications or drug combinations that make them dizzy and sleepy. Additionally, discuss taking vitamin D supplements to increase bone, muscle, and nervous system health.
Use a Walker or Cane
It is best to consult with a doctor if the senior will need mobility aids. An example could be using a wheelchair, walker, cane, or a motorized scooter. It is important to make sure the mobility aid is the right size for the user and that its wheels roll smoothly. In unfamiliar areas of senior living communities, elderly people need to be aware of where they are walking. It will take an occupational therapist to train the person on how to use them properly. Also, you will find it more convenient to have an accessible wheelchair, walker, or scooter that can be folded and fit into a car’s trunk or back seat.
Final Thoughts: Prevention is Better Than Cure
Falling seniors is not something to be laughed at. Falling becomes increasingly common and dangerous as we age. These steps can help your family member reduce the risk of falling and help them stay independent for as long as possible. Solutions are easily installed and relatively inexpensive. Depending on the situation, professional assistance or a significant investment might be required.
Investing in fall prevention is an investment in your independence, so even if you’re worried about the cost, remember it’s an investment in the safety of seniors.