According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in people aged 65 or older. In fact, one in three people in this age group fall each year, and more than 90 percent of hip fractures are caused by a fall.
A senior can fall for many different reasons; a simple accident like a foot falling off a curb, for example, can cause a debilitating fall. Or, perhaps they have balance issues and reduced strength due to muscle loss, or poor eyesight. Medications can play a role, too, with side effect like dizziness and weakness. Personal factors like lack of activity or exercise, poor diet and bad habits like smoking or drinking alcohol excessively can also increase the risk for falls.
Preventing Falls in the Elderly
Whatever the reason for the fall, certain steps can and should be taken to help prevent them from occurring. Of course, an accident can occur at any time, but by taking a few extra precautions, preventing falls in the elderly is possible.
Go through the senior’s home or living space and implement some easy changes. For example, make sure the floors, hallways and stairs are clear of clutter and that furniture is arranged in a way that allows an unobstructed path. Remove throw rugs and low-rise pieces of furniture like ottomans, coffee tables, plants or magazine racks and keep cords to electronics safely tucked away. Install railings or grab bars in the hallways and bathrooms.
Also, make sure the living spaces are well lit. Utilize night lights and make sure light switches are easily accessible at each room entrance. You can even consider putting the lights on a timer, so they turn on automatically in the evening. Keep a flashlight near the bed, along with a phone in case of an emergency; this way a senior won’t have to jump up and rush to answer a phone call.
Fall Prevention Tips
After the home has been safeguarded, there are a few other fall prevention tips to keep in mind. Make sure your loved one is maintaining regular doctor appointments and getting their eyesight and vision checked annually. A healthy lifestyle is important to uphold as well. Your loved one should eat a well-balanced diet, with plenty of calcium and vitamin D, and be involved in some type of physical activity every day. Just make sure your loved one is wearing the proper shoes when getting exercise; look for those with good support and non-skid soles. Learn about the side effects from medications that could potentially affect balance.
Finally, be prepared for an emergency. Have your loved one check in with you or another family member daily, so you know to be alarmed if you don’t get your scheduled call. Invest in an alert device or cell phone that can be kept on their person at all times.
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