We’ve all seen it, you know, the old commercial where a senior falls in her home and cries out that she’s fallen and can’t get up. So many recognize the commercial that today that line is practically a punch line. However, the reality is, falling is no laughing matter – especially for seniors. Did you know, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- 20 percent of all falls cause serious injury, most often head injuries or hip fractures.
- Each year, 2.8 million seniors receive emergency room treatment as a result of falls.
- More than 800,00 seniors are hospitalized each year for fall-related injuries.
With a little bit of planning, there are preventative steps that seniors, caregivers and their families can take to greatly limit the chances of falling.
Prevention Is Key
The best preventive methods involve addressing and minimizing hazards before they can pose a threat to an aging loved one’s health. Not every accident can be avoided, but taking certain precautions can extend a senior’s independence and greatly reduce their risk of injury and death.
Fall Prevention Planning
There are some steps you can take to keep your loved one steady on their feet:
- Encourage physical activity: According to the National Institutes of Health, muscle weakness as well as inflexibility are two primary conditions that can increase an senior’s risk of falling. Exercise programs that focus on increasing a loved one’s strength, endurance and flexibility can cut their chances of experiencing a serious stumble.
- Get their medications checked: Certain medications (or medication combinations) can make a senior more prone to feelings of dizziness or disorientation. If you feel your loved one’s prescriptions are upping their odds for a fall, be sure to check-in with their doctor to see what options are on the table.
- Remove obstacles: Most falls are a result of a combination of risk factors. Though one may be unable to change some of the risks (like aging!), one can, however, change the things in your loved one’s environment to keep them safer. Whenever possible, make sure to clear a path for your loved one by removing tripping hazards such as area rugs, low-lying furniture and loose electrical cords.
- Wear sensible, good shoes: Heels, loose-fitting shoes and slip-on backless shoes are a major risk factor for falls and a quick problem to fix. While they might not be the most fashionable shoes to wear, the National Institute on Aging recommends seniors wear shoes that are non-skid, rubber-soled and with a low heel – and it goes without saying that for seniors, sliding around in socks is just a recipe for disaster! That said, you can also purchase non-slip socks that have grips on the soles of the feet if shoes are too uncomfortable.
- Install grab bars and handrails: Installing grab bars, or shower safety bars in your loved one’s bathroom is one of the most effective and cost efficient ways to prevent falls. By installing grab bars in your tub or shower, older adults have something to grasp when entering and exiting the bathtub or shower. Grab bars can also be installed near the toilet to aid with leverage and balance. Whether inside or outside a senior’s home, stairs can be major concern. Consider installing sturdy handrails on both sides of the stairs.
- Encourage mobility devices: Perhaps the most important addition to a senior’s fall prevention plan is the proper use of mobility assistive equipment. Transitions from sitting to standing and walking forward are made significantly safer with the use of canes, walkers, and rollaters. Be sure to encourage your loved one to get properly fitted for mobility assistive equipment and to accept their use as a major contributor to their overall health and wellbeing.
Assisted living facilities can often help seniors lower their risk for falls. From a thoughtfully-designed environment to healthy meals, contact us today to learn more about our fall prevention programs.