Over the years, our bodies become more prone to injuries and accidents. As we age, we lose some sense of coordination, flexibility and balance. Although we all hope to maintain our young physiques forever, our bodies will start to show signs of wear, making us more susceptible to physical accidents.
Our environment may prove to be a hazard if our vision becomes blurred and our bodies fail to perform as we could in the past. Additionally, more than 80% of seniors suffer from one or more chronic conditions, which — combined with prescriptions and medications — could lead to falls and injury.
Not only do falls present an immediate health concern to the elderly, but they also increase the risk of long-term consequences. Just one incident could spark a chain reaction of complications, which often affect more than just the injured party. Caregivers and family are often responsible for the care and healing of elderly victims, which could put jobs and obligations on hold.
Because of the ripples that a fall may cause, it’s important to equip our elderly loved ones with senior fall prevention measures and emergency plans to avoid catastrophe. If you want to learn how to prevent falls in the elderly, consider these tips.
Create a Fall-Proof Home Environment
More than 50% of injury-related hospitalizations are for people older than 65. Furthermore, the average hospital visit due to a fall can last up to 15 days, depending on the injury. The first step to avoiding an emergency room visit is to reflect on the condition of the home.
Here are some ways to help your loved one maintain independence while promoting fall prevention in the elderly:
- Clear clutter. Tripping over an object could cause a senior to fall on furniture or tip furniture over, which could make a fall even more devastating. Make sure the floors are clear and clutter is gone.
- Reinforce handrails. Make sure the screws are tightened on any wiggly rails in and outside the house. Consider installing a handrail on both sides of any stairway.
- Prioritize the bathroom. The moisture and wet surfaces in the bathroom are dangerous for seniors who don’t have the balance or reaction times needed to keep from falling. Consider installing walk-in tubs or showers, taller toilets, or other senior-friendly accessories.
- Rethink high shelves. Reaching for something on the top shelf can cause someone to lose his or her balance. Put items on a lower shelf or invest in a quality grabber tool.
- Check the lighting. A dim or ill-lighted room could impact a person’s ability to see obstacles. Install accessible lamps or move light switches so they’re within reach.
- Secure the flooring. Loose floorboards, slippery rugs or slick surfaces increase the chances of a fall. Secure any unstable boards or loose carpet corners.
More Ways to Ensure Safety
Even with a home atmosphere optimized for safety, the risk or trauma of falling might still be present. For someone who has experienced a prior fall, it may lead to dependence on others, confusion, immobilization, social isolation or an unwillingness to participate in daily activities. Falling once often doubles the likelihood of falling again.
Here are more ways to promote safety for yourself or a loved one:
- Wear appropriate footwear. Slippers, high heels and socks might not be a sensible choice. Replace these with shoes that have a sturdy, nonslip sole.
- Promote physical activity. By implementing regular activity, such as stretching, walking or light weightlifting, you can help improve balance, coordination and strength.
- Get used to mobility aids. A wheelchair, walker, cane or motorized scooter could be a solution to many balance-related issues, depending on the person’s needs.
- Visit the doctor regularly. Eye exams and regular check-ups are important to make sure chronic illnesses are managed and health is monitored professionally.
Although many seniors want to maintain their independence and live a normal life, there are benefits to having a little help. A home care specialist would allow a senior to remain comfortable in his or her home and ensure he or she has adequate care.
WellSprings Home Care’s home services include live-in assistance, overnight care and specialized support for veterans or those suffering from dementia. Contact us for a consultation today to learn more.