Accidental falls are one of the leading causes of injuries in seniors. At worst, these can also lead to fatalities. As such, providers of home health care in California take great pains in preventing these. But how do you do that in your own way? Here are some fall prevention for the elderly tips.
Understanding The Causes And Risk Factors
It might surprise you, but various risk factors can lead to seniors tumbling over and hurting themselves. Identifying these factors early on will help you implement prevention methods better suited to your or your loved one’s conditions.
Physical Risk Factors
The most obvious risk for falls in the elderly is their weakening senses. As they grow older, people will inevitably have poorer eyesight and hearing. This makes it harder for them to navigate their environment and avoid obstacles.
Additionally, their sense of balance also declines. Poor body coordination associated with age can make this worse. Also, people tend to become less active as they age, leading to reduced muscle mass and weight gain, as well as less flexibility. This makes their bodies less stable, leading to balance issues.
Various health conditions like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s’, and arthritis can also affect your overall physical health. These not just increase your risk of falling but also impacts your ability to respond to it. Such illnesses might also result in nerve damage in the feet, making it hard for seniors to feel for obstacles and avoid them.
On the other hand, medication can also increase the risk of falling. This has to do with the side effects that some medicines can cause. Certain cardiovascular drugs, for instance, cause dizziness, drowsiness, or low blood pressure. All of these can lead to you being unable to respond to the environment quickly. A study notes that 39% of adults take at least five different medications, aggravating the side effects and increasing fall risk.
Your or your elderly loved one’s behavior can also contribute to a risk of falling. Often, you might be so used to the routines that you do when you were younger that you are not aware if your body can still cope with those. For instance, you might still try to do heavy laundry even if this puts a strain on your body.
Other peculiar habits you might have can also expose you to the dangers of falling. For example, you might be fond of walking barefoot. That can lead you to slip on such things as spilled water.
What Happens When You Fall?
You probably already know that falls can lead to injuries, but you will likely be surprised at how much damage these can cause. According to statistics, one in five falls can lead to serious injuries. Some of the common injuries that you might sustain are:
- Broken bones: Hip fractures are the most common one for seniors, with over 300,000 hospitalized due to it yearly.
- Head injuries: Such injuries can be dangerous, especially for those who are taking blood-thinning medication. These can lead to possible hemorrhaging in the brain.
- Phobias: While you might not sustain any injury, you could develop a fear of falling from the experience. It can affect how you move around.
Because these injuries can be significant, home health care in California gives a large amount of focus in avoiding them. As such, you can depend on these providers for help in preventing falls.
Making Your Home Fall-Proof
The first thing that you would want to do to prevent potential falls is by decluttering your home. The most common scenario where seniors suffer falls is when they accidentally step on or bump into an obstacle. As such, you should regularly clean around the house to remove such items.
Start by decluttering the path that a senior would most often take. This can be a hallway to the bathroom, the kitchen, or going to their bedroom. You might also want to move furniture to make more room for them to pass through.
It would also be a good idea to secure rugs and carpets with a slip-resistant backing or tape. These can be slippery on a smooth floor and might cause an older person to slide when they step on it. On the other hand, you would want to use non-slip mats in places like the bathroom or kitchen.
Improve Home Lighting
Good lighting will also help seniors see obstacles better and avoid them. As is with the above, start by improving the lighting in the areas that they most frequent. You would also want to make switches more accessible to them so they can light up their way before walking.
Beyond these, be more conscious in ensuring that your elderly loved ones have ample lighting when they move around. When you go to your bedroom or another area of the house, turn on the lights for them. You would also want to have flashlights and lamps handy in case they need it.
Another way to make your home safer for senior relatives is by improving accessibility. This way, they don’t need to exert too much effort when doing activities and accidentally fall over. Some simple ways you can do this include:
- Adding handrails to stairs and hallways
- Putting non-slip treads on the stairs
- Adding grab bars in the shower
- Using a raised toilet seat
- Placing a sturdy seat in the shower area
When you sign up with Amavi, we can help connect you with an occupational therapist. They will provide more suggestions on how to improve your home’s accessibility based on your elderly loved one’s needs.
Preventing Falls By Maintaining Your Body
As already mentioned, your physical health can also impact your risk for falls. Thus, you need to ensure that you or your older loved ones are fit. Schedule an appointment with a doctor so that they can give you a thorough checkup. They will be able to determine any health issues that might increase your risk of falls.
Here, provide details about any fall-related incidents that your elderly loved one might have had. You can also provide details about the medications they are taking. Based on this information, your doctor can prepare a specific fall prevention strategy for you.
As falls are often the result of your body not being able to right itself quickly enough, you need to keep it fit. Regular exercise will help you keep your weight down, making it easier for you to move. Additionally, you can focus on exercises that help improve your flexibility and balance.
You also need to be aware of your body’s limitations at your age. Gauge what you can and can’t do and adjust your lifestyle accordingly. If your doctor recommends that you use an assistive device like a cane, take time to learn how to adapt to it. This way, you can integrate it into your routines easily.