Don't allow your loved one to become a statistic.
It’s one of the leading causes of death among adults over the age of 65. And statistics show that one in three seniors falls each year with more than 700,000 people hospitalized because of a fall and nearly 250,00 people for hip fractures associated with a fall. While most of us know that falling is not uncommon among the elderly, you may not realize that there are ways to help prevent your loved one from falling. If you’re caring for a senior or have a senior family member, take a moment to review this guide on how you can help mitigate the risks of falling.
What causes seniors to fall
Believe it or not, old age alone does not always equate to falling. Many seniors get through their golden years without having any major problems. But there are factors that can increase the likelihood of falls, such as:
- Muscle weakness in the legs
- Poor balance
- Postural hypotension (drop in blood pressure)
- Slowed reflexes
- Conditions of the feet
- Vision issues
- Certain Medications
- Household risks (clutter, stairs, rugs, etc.)
How to reduce risk of falls
As people age, it is common for them to lose strength in their muscles and experience many of the issues that can cause an increased risk of falls. To help your loved one, there are several ways you can work with them to make them safer.
The first and easiest step to take would be to go through their home and make sure that the environment does not present any dangers. Things like loose rugs, the absence of railings on stairs or grab bars in the shower, dim lighting and lots of clutter can increase the risk of your loved one falling.
Once you’ve assessed the dangers and made the necessary changes, you can look at other factors that could be a hindrance to your loved one’s safety including:
- Strengthen muscles: Work with your loved one and their healthcare provider to incorporate exercises that will help strengthen their muscles, especially their legs.
- Work on balance: Many fitness centers offer senior yoga and other group classes that can help your loved one improve their balance and flexibility. This type of training will can help lessen the risk of falling.
- Have vision checked: If your loved one hasn’t had an eye exam in a year, it’s been too long. If they have, make sure their prescription is still the right strength.
- Go over all medications: Talk to your loved one’s doctor and make sure that all their medications are up to date and that there are no possible interactions going on that could cause dizziness, loss of balance or confusion.
- Rearrange furnishings: If there are certain pieces of furniture that are in the way, like chair that stick out, make sure that the path for your loved one to walk from one room to another is clear.
- Rearrange cabinets: Check the kitchen and make sure that the items your loved one needs to use on a daily basis are within easy reach—if they have to climb on a stool or ladder to get something, their risk of falling is higher.
- Check the bathroom: In addition to installing grab bars if there aren’t any, make sure your loved one’s bathroom has a non-slip mat in the shower and a non-slip bathmat to step onto.
- Improve lighting: Go through the house and make sure that there is enough light in each room. Seniors often get up in the middle of the night and this is when a lot of falls happen because there is poor lighting. Increase wattage in lamps and put nightlights in the bedroom and hallway to ensure that your loved one can see when they are walking from one room to another.
- Check their shoes: There’s a lot to be said for sensible footwear. Make sure your loved one is wearing shoes that are not only comfortable, but also offer support and grip.
- Get a home healthcare aid: If you are concerned for your loved and he/she lives alone, it may be a good idea to consider enlisting the services of a home healthcare aide. They are professionals who are trained in caring for the elderly and can help ensure that your loved one remains safe in their home.
Seniors 75 and over who fall are five times more likely to be admitted to a long-term care facility for a year or longer. If you have a senior loved one in your life, mitigating the risks of falls is a big concern. Although falling is more common for people over the age of 65, you can take certain steps to help your loved one stay safe. If you would like to find out more about senior care or are interested in a home healthcare aide, get in touch with us. We have an array of services available and would be happy to discuss the options with you.