How to Prevent Your Elders from Falling
Did you know?
• The odds of falling each year after age 65 in the US are about one in three.
• The risk of falling increases with age.
• The risk of falling is greater for women than for men.
• Two-thirds of those who experience a fall will fall again within six months.
• A decrease in bone density contributes to falls and resultant injuries.
• Failure to exercise regularly results in poor muscle tone, decreased strength, and loss of bone mass and flexibility.
• At least one-third of all falls in the elderly involve environmental hazards in the home
For caregivers of seniors and the elderly, preventing falls is one of the most important goals. Despite the daunting statistics above, we don’t need to let the fear of our elderly loved ones falling rule our life. Many of the factors that lead seniors falling can be prevented. In this article, we will highlight some of the steps you can take to prevent your senior loved one from falling.
Factors that lead to seniors and elderly falls
There are quite a few risk factors that lead to falls. There is no solid information as to which risk factor is the most prevalent in cases of elderly falls, but the more risk factors your senior loved one is exposed to greatly increases the chances of a fall, thus threatening their independence and increasing the chance of a hospital stay, home care, physical therapy, occupational therapy and a loss of independence. One of the biggest causes of senior falls is lack of knowledge about these risk factors and what preventative actions can be taken. Below we list a few important risk factors that should be considered to effectively prevent falls.
Risk Factor #1: Hazards in the Home
At least one-third of all falls in the elderly involve environmental hazards in the home. So as part of your fall-prevention measures, take a look around the living room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, hallways and stairways because they may be filled with booby traps.
• Remove boxes, newspapers, electrical cords and phone cords from walkways.
• Move coffee tables, magazine racks and plant stands from high-traffic areas.
• Secure loose rugs with double-faced tape, tacks or a slip-resistant backing.
• Repair loose, wooden floorboards and carpeting right away.
• Store clothing, dishes, food and other household necessities within easy reach.
• Immediately clean spilled liquids, grease or food.
• Use nonskid floor wax.
• Use nonslip mats in your bathtub or shower
Risk Factor #2: Health & Medications
Have your elder’s doctor take a look at their health and medications to identify situations where they may be vulnerable to falling. There could be issues ranging from medications they are taking to Osteoporosis, which can make their bones less resistant to stress.
Risk Factor #3: Lack of exercise or physical activity
If you aren’t already getting regular physical activity, consider starting a general exercise program as part of your fall-prevention plan. Failure to exercise regularly results in poor muscle tone, decreased strength, and loss of bone mass and flexibility. All contribute to falls and the severity of injury due to falls.
• Engage regularly (e.g., every other day for about 15 minutes daily) in exercise designed to increase muscle and bone strength, and to improve balance and flexibility. Many people enjoy walking and swimming.
• Undertake daily activities in a safe manner, such as reaching and bending properly, taking time to recover balance when rising from a chair or bed, learning the proper way to fall, and learning how to recover after a fall.
• Wear proper fitting, supportive shoes with low heels or rubber soles.
Risk Factor #4: Impaired vision & lack of lighting
Age-related vision diseases can increase the risk of falling. Cataracts and glaucoma alter older people’s depth perception, visual acuity, peripheral vision and susceptibility to glare. And you get older; less light reaches the back of your eyes where you sense color and motion. These limitations hinder their ability to safely negotiate their environment, whether it is in their own home or anywhere else.
• Have regular checkups and eye exams
• Make sure their glasses are clean
• Place a lamp near the bed that is in reach
• Clear paths in the hallways
• Use night lights in the home
• Keep a flashlight with charged batteries in an accessible area
These aren’t all of the things that can prevent elders and seniors from falling, but by taking these actions, you can increase the likelihood that falls can be prevented. So, I hope this list helps you with your fall prevention plans.