For people who are 65 years old and older, falls are the top cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries. The injuries that falls can cause include broken bones, fractured hips, and head injuries. Not all falls result in injuries, but that’s not to say falls that don’t cause injuries are harmless. In fact, seniors who suffer a fall can become fearful or depressed, stemming from concern that they will fall again.
Regardless of whether a senior suffers an injury after a fall, the important thing to do is take action to prevent it from happening again. Even better, take action before a fall occurs.
As people reach old age, it’s not uncommon for them to fall, but that doesn’t mean it’s inevitable. Rather, a majority of falls can be prevented if you take the necessary steps and precautions to prevent them from happening.
Talk with Your Loved One
It’s important to speak with your elderly loved ones about the potential for falls and how they feel about it. They could be concerned about falling and may not have told anyone, or they could be unconcerned about falling and think they won’t suffer a fall. They could also be having health problems in which they’re forgetful or having difficulties performing everyday tasks that used to be easy.
Seniors need to know that they can and need to take the necessary steps and precautions to prevent falls.
For those concerned about falling, you can suggest that they speak with their health care provider, who can determine their risk of falling and recommend services or programs they can take that help prevent falls.
Fall Proof the Home
People spend a lot of time in their homes, which is why it is important to make sure that your elderly loved one’s home is clear of clutter and other potential tripping hazards. In addition, sufficient lighting in a home will also help prevent falls. If a residence needs more lighting, add some where it’s necessary. For example, it’s ideal to have lighting at the top and the bottom of staircases, so consider adding lighting in either of those areas if that’s not already the case.
Handrails and grab bars are other things you should consider adding to a senior’s home. Be it for the stairs or the bathroom, handrails and grab bars will help your loved one maintain their balance. Many staircases in a home already have a handrail, but adding another one on the opposite side can further assist with keeping one’s balance, helping to prevent falls.
Have Vision and Hearing Regularly Checked
As we age, our vision tends to deteriorate. In fact, when you become older, less light can reach your retina. This makes it more difficult for you to see. As such, seniors will have a more difficult time spotting tripping hazards and other obstacles that can cause a fall. Knowing this, it is vital that your elderly loved one has his or her vision checked annually.
If your loved one wears prescription eyeglasses, this is especially crucial, as he or she may have had a change in their prescription since their last checkup. For those with lenses that change their tint for the sun, they need to be wary going from the outside to the inside, because it can be difficult to see inside with tinted lenses.
Aside from vision checkups, seniors also need to have their hearing checked annually, because your ears play a key role in your balance. If there’s an issue with your ears, then you may have a problem keeping your balance.
Balance and coordination are things that can worsen as we age, but that doesn’t mean this has to be the case. Maintaining one’s balance and coordination is important in preventing falls, so seniors need to keep these strong.
Interestingly enough, some elders may choose to be inactive with the hopes of limiting their risks of falling, but that can actually increase those chances. Staying active and exercising on a regular basis helps you build and maintain your balance, flexibility, and strength. That said, your elderly loved ones should be encouraged to be active.
Some of the medications you take can contain side effects that increase your risk of falling. Examples of such side effects are dehydration and dizziness. Knowing this, you need to check your elderly loved ones’ medications for such side effects and review them with their doctor or pharmacist.
Enlist Family Support
While the seniors themselves should be the ones initiating fall prevention, their family members should also be supportive. Elderly loved ones shouldn’t need to take such care on their own without help. Instead, they should know their family supports them and will do whatever it takes to help prevent falls. Find family members who will help seniors guarantee that their homes are safe, their health is in good condition, and that they remain active.
If you’re concerned about an elderly loved one’s risk of falling, work with them to take the necessary precautions to prevent falls. A step you can take is to get senior home care services for your loved one, which can provide care for your family member and help with fall prevention. Our caregivers at Assisting Hands Home Care will help make your loved one’s home safer and encourage them to be active to help reduce the risk of falls.