4 Reasons Seniors Fall and How to Reduce the Risk
Prevention is the key to your loved one’s safety (and your peace of mind)
If you have a senior loved one, the risk of falls is likely one of your biggest concerns. And with good reason: Falls are the number one cause of injury, hospital visits, and deaths among the elderly. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a senior adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall every 11 seconds, and every 19 minutes a senior dies from one.
As alarming as these statistics are, there are ways to help mitigate the risk of falling. Knowing what causes falls and how to prevent them is one of the best ways to protect your senior. Take a look:
Seniors with poor or impaired vision often fall for obvious reasons. And while your loved one may have glasses, it’s key to make sure that their prescription is up-to-date and that he or she is routinely wearing them as prescribed.
It’s not uncommon for a senior to take numerous medications on a daily basis. Yet, many times, one or more of them (or the combination of several) can cause an individual to lose balance, experience dizziness, or feel lightheaded, increasing the risk of falling. Although these medicines may be necessary, it’s a good idea to check with a physician or pharmacist to ensure that there are no interactions happening or dangerous side effects.
Lack of exercise
As your loved one ages, a decrease in physical activity is expected. But too little movement can decrease muscle strength, bone mass, and flexibility, which increases the likelihood that he or she will lose their balance. Even a small amount of exercise (a 30 minute walk a few days a week) can help keep an individual strong and reduce the risk of falls.
Hazards in the home
While many people assume that the safest place for their senior is in their home, the opposite is often the case. In fact, according to a handbook written by retired orthopedic surgeon Dr. M.E. Hecht, 70 percent of serious injuries requiring emergency room visits happen within or just about 30 yards from the home. It’s important to go through your loved one’s residence and ensure that any potential dangers are corrected or eliminated. Things to look for include:
• Loose rugs or carpets: Either get rid of them or ensure they are properly secured to prevent tripping
• Clean up clutter: Make sure hallways and doorways are free and clear of any piles of household items, boxes, etc.
• Lighting: Get nightlights for the hall, bedroom, and bathroom and make sure there is ample lighting throughout the home
• Non-slip mats: Add these to the bathroom and kitchen to reduce the risk of falling on slippery floors
• Power cords: Dangling or loose power cords should be tucked away and removed from areas where your loved one walks
What you can do to reduce the risk of falls
Falls among the elderly are common but not inevitable, and there are ways for you to reduce the risk. In addition to going room to room in your senior’s home and eliminating the obvious dangers, invest in safety features, including:
• Grab bars in the bathroom
• A toilet seat riser and safety bar in the bathroom
• A bed railing in the bedroom
• A safety pole in the living room
• Recliner risers or a chair lifter in the living room
In addition, you can provide your senior with a medical alert system that ensures that he or she can get help immediately if a fall does occur. There are numerous products available, including wearable devices that are easily activated even if an individual has been injured.
Although falls can be frightening, prevention will give you the peace of mind that you’ve done all you can to reduce the risks. If a fall or injury does occur, ensure that your loved one is equipped with a medical alert device. Visit Caring Solutions, LLC online to browse essential medical alert devices, medication dispensers, and much more.