It’s more than “I’ve fallen and can’t get up!”
Falls are responsible for significant number of injuries, accidents, hospital admissions, surgeries, nursing home placements and even death in the 65+ crowd. If you fall and break a bone, it can be the start of an awful avalanche of problems.
Risk factors include problems with hearing, vision, walking and mobility. Also when acute illnesses happen, folks that already have chronic issues, tends to have more falls. Many medications can give side effects of drowsiness, dizziness and confusion. However when multiple medications are taken together, it increases the likelihood of falls tremendously. Ways that you can help your loved ones to decrease the chance of them falling are:
- Encouraged your love one to stay active. Regular exercise improves muscle strength and slow bone loss.
- Have their eyes and hearing tested. Even slight changes can make a big difference.
- Improving lighting. Poorly lit areas mixed with poor vision leads to a dangerous situation. Make sure there is good lighting with light switches at both ends of a stairs or large room. Remember to use the lights.
- Downsize big furniture. Obstructive furniture that has to be navigated around can become a trap when someone is rushing to the bathroom. Consider a new place for it or replacing with something smaller.
- Slippery floors. The aging brain is not quite as quick at reacting to changes in position. Also aging bones tend to be more fragile, if not, osteoporotic. So a small slip could equal a big break. Consider placing slip guards or no-slip strips on tile or wood floors. Don’t wax floor surfaces. Clean up water immediately if spilled.
- Loose floor covering. Loose throw rugs are a big no-no for the 65+ crowd. Consider either securing these or getting rid of them all together
- Bathrooms without rails or grab bars. Bathrooms can be a sand trap for falls. They are the perfect storm: slippery surfaces, water and tight spaces. Even though it may not be the most fashionable, consider adding grab bars or railing in prominent areas in bathrooms for additional safety.
- Talk you the doctor about any medications causing side effects.
Here are some helpful resources:
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control www.cdc.gov/ncipc
National Resource Center on Supportive Housing and Home Modifications
Also many state and local government bodies have education and home modification programs to help older people prevent falls. Check with your health department, senior center office or area agency on aging for more details.