Senior falls occur more commonly than you’d expect. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every three adults aged 65 and older fall every year, many sustaining fall related injuries and complications. For individuals older than 65, these falls are the number one cause of injury and death—also the leading cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma.
Senior fall prevention is so critical because often times these falls do result in moderate to severe injuries, including head traumas, lacerations, hip fractures and falls are the leading cause of TBH (traumatic brain injuries). Falls also cause ankle leg, arm, hip, pelvis, spike, and hand fractures.
As the saying goes, “prevention is better than cure”. Anticipating and understanding fall risk factors can help you create a safer environment for your senior loved one. The following are critical several senior home care tips for fall prevention in the elderly:
- Encourage your senior loved one to exercise regularly. Lack of physical activity can lead to loss of bone mass and flexibility, as well as poor muscle tone and decreased strength, all of which can attribute to a fall and affect the severity of a fall-caused injury. Encourage your loved one to exercise regularly to increase leg strength and improve balance and flexibility. Proper gear such as socks and shoes should always be worn and exercises should be done correctly to avoid strain.
- We encourage you to take your senior loved one to the doctor and have them review medications. Some prescription and over-the-counter drugs may cause drowsiness and dizziness—we encourage you to speak with your doctor to discuss your options and reduce side effects.
- Make sure your loved one visits the eye doctor. Impaired vision (cataracts and glaucoma) may contribute sensitivity to glare and poor depth perception. Both these factors may impede your loved one’s ability to navigate through his or her home environment. It’s critical to pay a visit to the ophthalmologist and have your loved one’s eyeglasses checked and adjusted as is appropriate to maximize vision.
- Take steps to fall-proof your home. An ounce of prevention is critical here as in many instances the environment in which a senior moves around in can contribute to the cause of a fall. Are there appliance cords waiting to trip someone up? Are there throw rugs in every doorway in your loved one’s home? Are walkways and hallways dimly lit? Are outdoor pathways cluttered with rocks? Take the time to assess your loved one’s living environment to ensure there are no problems that may cause a fall.
The following are a few basic ways to make your home safer:
- Removing newspapers, phone chords, and boxes from walkways.
- Securing all rugs with double-sided tape, slip–resistant backing, or tacks. Or simply remove loose rugs from your home.
- Magazine racks, plant stands, and coffee tables must be removed from high-traffic areas.
- Store clothing, food, and other necessities within reach.
- Repair damaged carpeting, loose floorboards or other issues immediately.
- Promptly clean up grease, food, or other spilled liquids.
- Place nonskid mats in your shower or bathtub.
- Footwear is a simple change to make—proper footwear is a critical part of your senior loved one’s fall-prevention plan. Floppy slippers, thick soled shoes, and heels of any sort are not advisable as they can cause slips, stumbles, and falls. Avoid walking in stocking feet as well. The solution are properly fitting shoes with nonskid soles—lace ups are preferable to slip ons. Always ensure laces are securely tied. If laces are an issue, choose footwear with fabric fasteners. Women who cannot find shoes wide enough should opt for men’s footwear instead.
Fall prevention is a mandatory part of taking care of a senior loved one. The steps above are simple ways to prevent your loved one from experiencing a fall that may result in much hassle, cost, and grief. Falls in older adults are common and dangerous but can be prevented with fall prevention tips such as these.