Falling, to some degree, is a natural part of life. We fall learning how to walk, ride a bike, play sports, etc. and are taught to just brush it off and get back up again. As we age, simply “getting back up” is no easy feat and the recovery time after a fall takes longer and longer.
Senior Fall Risk
For the elderly, falls can be fatal. The majority of both fatal and non-fatal injuries older adults experience are a result of falls. Statistics show that 1 in 4 adults over the age of 65 falls each year in America. Don’t let your loved one be a statistic. Stay informed on older adult’s home hazards, lifestyle, and health concerns to help lower their risk of falling.
Seniors are at an increased risk for falling due to medical conditions such as osteoporosis, Parkinson’s disease, cataracts, among many others. Checking in regularly with a primary care doctor or specialist is crucial to monitor the side effects of these conditions. Wearing improper footwear can also be a hazard for older adults, but taking steps to decrease the senior fall risk starts at home.
Take Steps to Prevent Falling
The risk of falling can be paralyzing to older adults. Fear prevents seniors from being able to live freely and leave their homes to go shopping or even participate in casual, social activities. To overcome the fear of falling, older adults need to feel confident in their abilities to move freely with control over their bodies.
The home environment is the first line of defense to prevent elderly falls. As a caregiver or family member of an elderly individual, take a walk-through of their house or living space and note concerns. Some items to address include:
- Lighting in the room. Is everything visible or does the dim lighting make it difficult to maneuver in the space?
- Clear the walkway. Are there items that may cause a hazard to walking in particular rooms such as old rugs or clutter on the floor?
- Grab bars in bathrooms. Install grab bars in all bathrooms for the shower and near the toilets for easy support.
- Railings. Are there railings for all staircases? If not, be sure to install railings for secure steps when walking up and down the stairs.
Another important fall prevention tip to note is daily exercise. Even small movements, when done regularly, can help in the long term to build and strengthen muscles within the body. Encourage the older adult(s) in your life to engage in one or more of the following activities:
- Tai Chi
- Chair exercises
- Group fitness classes
- Walking around the block
Being proactive to strengthen their physical shape will give older adults the security they desire in their own skin. Each of these physical exercises helps build strength, improve balance, and develop agility. Retirement homes and local gyms sometimes offer group fitness classes for older adults, so keep an eye out or search for classes in your area. Finding more places for older adults to get social is always a plus.
Regular checkups are important for maintaining physical health, especially for aging adults. Older adults tend to lose their vision and need to go in for eye checkups at least once per year (if not every six months). Keep in mine, bifocals and transition lenses can become fall hazards.
Bifocals can cause imbalance when walking up or down the stairs; one of many reasons why railings are very important to install on stairwells. Tint-changing lenses can be disorienting when walking into a building from the bright sunlight. Remind older adults to wait for their lenses to adjust before taking another step. Another option is to buy sunglasses that fit over regular glasses so they can be taken off immediately after walking into a building.
How Can Home Care Help?
Falls happen, but don’t be discouraged! As noted above, elderly falls can be prevented. At Commonwise Home Care, our caregivers are trained to keep an eye out for potentially fall hazardous environments. From rolling up that old rug with curled corners to fall-proof the home to everyday meal preparation, our in home caregivers are here to help.
Senior care support is also available for crucial activities such as medication monitoring. A professional caregiver provides home care management services that truly care for your loved one’s wellbeing. We are devoted to serving clients and their families with the utmost compassion, respect, and care. For more information on the Commonwise Home Care difference, call 434.202.8565.
Disclaimer: Please check with your physician before making any changes to your diet, exercise or medication routine.