Unfortunately, a lot of families call us because their loved one fell and needs help recouping. Falls are the leading cause of injury in adults over the age of 65, and can result in hip fractures, lacerations, and even more serious injuries to the head, which can be fatal. One out of three older adults fall each year, with 24% of those who fall sustaining serious injuries and 6% sustaining fractures. The number of falls is expected to increase yearly, costing the US health care system more than $54.9 billion by 2020. The risk of falling increases with the following risk factors:
• Previous falls
• Decreased strength
• Gait impairments
• Use of psychoactive medications
• Visual impairment
• Age > 80 years
• Cognitive impairment
• Undertreated pain
Seniors can avoid certain types of activities because they may be afraid of falling. Whether it’s a slippery floor or phone cords that may be in walkways, there are steps that can be taken to make homes safer.
1. Clean up clutter. This is one of the easiest steps that can be taken to prevent falls. By making sure your home is neat and tidy, walkways, hallways, and staircases can be kept clear and open.
2. Remove any potential hazards.
• Move coffee tables, furniture and plants from high-traffic areas.
• Repair loose floorboards and remove or secure any loose rugs/carpeting.
• Clean up spilled liquids or food right away.
3. Use light to brighten living space. Place night lights in dimly lit areas, such as bedrooms and hallways. Turn on the lights before going up or down stairs. Store flashlights in easily accessible areas in case of power outages.
4. Use assistive devices if necessary. Your physician may recommend using a cane or walker to keep you steady. Some other devices that can be utilized include: hand rails for the stairway, raised toilet seats, grab bars for the shower or tub, non-slip treads for wooden steps, and a plastic seat for the shower or tub. If necessary, your physician can help you brainstorm or refer you to an occupational therapist that can think of other fall-prevention strategies.
5. Wear the right shoes. Consider your footwear or start wearing shoes at home if you haven’t already. Avoid shoes such as high heels or floppy slippers, which can make you stumble and fall. Non-slip socks can also be an option if shoes are too uncomfortable.
6. Move more carefully. Take your time when going from a sitting to standing position and vice versa. Take a pause if necessary and ask for assistance. Be mindful of side effects from any medications you may be taking, especially those that cause dizziness.
7. Hire a Caregiver. For Papa’s Sake Home Care can assist a high fall risk by proactively providing care. Whether it means assisting someone from one place or another or simply being an extra set of eyes, having a caregiver can significantly reduce the risk of a fall.
Did you know that physical activity can go a long way towards fall prevention? It is important to always check with your physician first before starting any type of physical activity. If approved, activities such as walking, water workouts, or even having a physical therapist create a custom exercise program that aims towards improving balance, flexibility, strength and gait can all help gain strength and reduce the risk of falls.
For Papa’s Sake Home Care can provide a caregiver to help ensure you or your loved one is safe. Give us a call at (847) 873-0234 or reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about our caregivers and how they may be able to help with fall prevention.