Let Assisting Hands Help Prevent In-Home Falls
Falls are the leading cause of injury death among individuals over 65 years of age, according to the CDC. Illness, medication side effects and environmental factors can all affect strength and balance, contributing to a fall. If someone you love has fallen once, there is a statistical chance of 75% of falling again within 6 months.
Beginning at the age of 63, the number of accidents from falls, some with fatal consequences, starts to increase. But shouldn’t we expect seniors to fall as they age due to balance and strength conditions? In fact, falls are not a normal part of the aging process. They can be prevented.
There are a few things you can do to prevent in-home falls:
First: talk with your doctor about falls and about improving management of any medical conditions, including reviewing medication types and dosage. Take your medications and follow their dosage closely. Using medication incorrectly may lead to dizziness and other side effects. Be especially aware of medication changes and talk with your doctor about symptoms. Most importantly, don’t stop medications without consulting your doctor.
Ask your doctor or other healthcare professionals about exercise, vestibular and balance training, as well as increasing physical activity. A good place to start is an evaluation by a physical therapist and/or an audiologist (to evaluate your balance).
Second: Be sure your home is as safe as possible by changing adverse environmental factors.
Take some practical steps such as:
- Wear shoes with nonskid soles (not house slippers or sandals).
- Be sure your home is well lit in the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and stairways, so that you can clearly see all objects you might trip over.
- Use night lights in your bedroom, bathroom, hallways and stairways.
- Remove throw rugs and tack down loose carpet edges.
- Keep your floor clear, and remove electrical cords across pathways.
- Install grab bars in your bathtub, shower and toilet area.
- Install handrails on both sides of stairways.
- Don’t climb on stools and stepladders. Get someone else to help with jobs that call for climbing, such as a caregiver.
- Keep your floor clean of liquids and don’t wax your floors.
If you have questions about how to improve safety in your home, please call our staff or schedule an in-home safety assessment. This is a free courtesy we perform for both clients and non-clients.
Check also the CDC fall-prevention checklist. It is a very useful resource.
Third: Think about home care, especially if you have fallen before and have trouble getting out of bed or up from a chair. You may want to consider an in-home caregiver to help with transfers, climbing and walking (the cost of a in-home support is typically 1/3 the cost of a nursing home.) Or you may want to talk with a physical therapist about starting a strengthening program and home safety evaluation.
All of Assisting Hands’ aides are especially trained in fall prevention.
Illnesses, medications and environmental factors can all affect strength and balance contributing to a fall. The best predictor of a future fall is a history of falls. Talk with your doctor, start exercising with professional guidance, and consider hiring a caregiver from Assisting Hands to help with risky tasks.