Falls are the leading cause of injuries and hospitalizations in people over sixty-five. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 1 in 4 older Americans suffer a fall every year. Falls among the elderly that result in a head injury or a broken bone account for 1 in 5 falls. And, between 2007 and 2016, death rates from falls increased by thirty percent. If this upward trend continues, it is projected that among the elderly there will be 7 deaths per hour from falling by 2030. Staggering!
How Can I Protect My Elderly Loved One From Falling?
The results of falling do not just involve physical injuries. Many seniors can become depressed or fearful after a fall, making it challenging to stay active and healthy. Preventing falls will help the senior in your life to remain healthy and independent for as long as possible. With this in mind, it’s helpful to understand the common factors that are involved in a fall.
- Balance and Gait – As we age, we often lose balance, coordination, and flexibility, making it much easier to fall.
- Vision – As the eye begins to age, less light reaches the retina. This affects peripheral vision and contrasting edges, making tripping hazards more difficult to recognize.
- Medications – Some medications can cause dehydration, dizziness, or other symptoms that increase the potential for falls.
- Environment – Often, seniors have lived in their homes for many years and have not made simple modifications to improve their safety.
- Chronic Conditions – Common chronic conditions such as arthritis or diabetes can result in loss of proper function, inactivity, pain, depression, etc., all of which can increase the risk of falling.
Preventing Falls – What Steps Can Be Taken?
Doing your best to involve your senior loved one in some basic safety precautions will help increase their risk awareness while not constricting their independence. Here are 5 simple steps to try:
- Start a conversation – Talk to your loved one about their concerns for the possibility of falling and involve them in a plan to reduce the risk going forward.
- Talk to the doctor – Together with your loved one, evaluate the risk for falls, and review medications and any associated side effects.
- Strength and balance exercises – Consider help from a physical therapist to incorporate strength exercises into the daily routine. A mobility aid such as a cane or a walker might also be of assistance.
- Updated eye testing – Everyone over sixty-five should have an annual eye test and always have their prescription updated, even for a slight change. Bifocal lenses may not be the best choice; sometimes it’s smarter to have a second pair of glasses just for distance.
- Home safety evaluation – Assess the safety of your loved one’s home with an eye to preventing falls. Some simple changes can make a huge difference.
Additional Help in the Home
Your senior may be finding the day-to-day tasks of maintaining life at home increasingly cumbersome, and help may be just what is needed. At Caring Healthcare, we offer both short-term and long-term care that can serve as part of your plan for preventing falls for your loved one. If you live in the Columbia SC area, we can be of assistance, so please don’t hesitate to talk to us.