Holiday Visits Are a Good Time to Improve Safety for Seniors with Fall Prevention Strategies
As we enter the holiday season, many of us will have the opportunity to visit elderly loved ones we may not get to see throughout the rest of the year. It’s a great opportunity to check seniors’ homes for fall prevention to help protect them long after you have to leave.
The elderly are more susceptible to falls which are a contributing factor in a higher mortality rate. More than one third of adults 65 and older fall each year in the United States. Falls are the most common reason for injury and hospitalization. Every 18 seconds, an older adult is treated in an emergency room, and every 35 minutes someone dies as a result of injuries caused by a fall. Falls are not an inevitable part of aging however. Learning strategies to reduce falls, healthy eating and regular checkups can help seniors maintain an active and independent lifestyle.
There are several strategies that can help reduce the risk of falls. Exercises like Tai Chi, Pilates and Yoga increase core muscle strength, flexibility and balance. Improved lighting in the home will reduce the risk of falls due to unseen objects. Remove hazards such as area rugs and runners that may slip when walked on. Placing grab bars in the bathroom will reduce the risk of falls and serious head injuries. Keep hallways, stairs and high traffic areas free of clutter. When standing or walking, move slowly at first to prevent falls due to dizziness.
A healthy diet rich in calcium and vitamin D will help keep bones and muscles healthy and strong and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Eating five or six small meals each day helps keep your body’s metabolism and blood sugar at a more constant level, thus reducing the risk of fatigue and lightheadedness.
Knowing ones limitations, learning strategies to prevent falls, eating a healthy diet and yearly checkups can increase longevity, and help to maintain an active and independent lifestyle.
In the event of a fall, follow these simple steps:
- Getting up quickly or the wrong way could make an injury worse. If you are hurt, call for help using a medical alert service or a telephone.
- Look around for a sturdy piece of furniture, or the bottom of a staircase. Don’t try and stand up on your own.
- Roll over onto your side by turning your head in the direction you are trying to roll, then move your shoulders, arms, hips, and leg over.
- Push your upper body up. Lift your head and pause for a few moments to steady yourself.
- Slowly get up on your hands and knees and crawl to a sturdy chair or the staircase. Place your hands on the seat of the chair or the bottom stair and slide one foot forward so it is flat on the floor. Keep the other leg bent with the knee on the floor.
- From this kneeling position, slowly rise and turn your body to sit.
- Sit for a few minutes before you try to get up and do anything.
Looking for more tips? Click here to read a great article by the Mayo Clinic on fall prevention strategies.