Fall Prevention Tips To Help Your Senior Loved One
Written by Joy de Guzman
November is Fall Prevention Month! The initiative was created to develop awareness across the community and to inform people of all ages and relations to seniors about the detriment falls can have on their lives.
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Fall related injuries among seniors occur too often and the statistics are alarming and need immediate attention! Current statistics show that 20-30 percent of older Canadians experience one or more falls each year, and falls are the cause of 85 percent of seniors requiring hospitalization, with about $2 billion annually in health care costs. Seniors already have fragile bone structures due to aging and often, arthritis is present as well.
What may seem like a simple or light fall to a younger person can cause an elderly person extensive bodily damage with long recoveries that are painful and may lead to permanent physical disabilities.
6 Tips to Help Your Senior Loved One Prevent Falls
- Exercise is so important to help with falls prevention and otherwise keep any person healthy. Encourage exercise in any form that is comfortable for the seniors in your life, whether it is just walking each day or attending an exercise class regularly. Exercise is the best way to improve a senior person’s physical endurance and balance. Bone strength is known to increase or at least stabilize from regular exercise, which is crucial for older persons.
- Check medications to ensure they are not creating even more risks of falling. Sometimes a medication may be okay on its own, but when combined with other medications or when given to an older patient, it can increase risks for falls due to lightheadedness, dizziness, drowsiness, etc. Take your list of medications to a doctor or pharmacist for evaluation, and be sure to not only include prescription medications but also herbal supplements and vitamins a senior may be taking. Your doctor will help you assess the risks versus the benefits of the medication, and guide you on the best options.
- Be sure that a senior’s home and other places they frequent are cleared of things that may impair their walking, and if you cannot remove those things then at least make sure the senior is aware of them. For example, at home clear all hallways of unnecessary clutter or throw rugs that are not secured, be cognizant of uneven surfaces they may walk on, or of surfaces that may tend to ice over during cold months. Help with making sure all electric and appliance wires are tucked away or properly secured to prevent tripping over them. Walkways, stairways and hallways should be well lit for proper view.
- If balance is an issue, talk to a doctor, physiotherapists or occupational therapist about aids that may help with balance control. Consider installing grab bars at strategic locations around the house (such as the washroom) to aid with balance and mobility.
- Be sure your senior has their eyes checked at least yearly. Impaired vision is a sure way to induce a fall, which can be easily avoided with corrective vision aids. Because your eyes also help with balance, it is important to ensure they are working at their optimal best.
- Educate seniors on the importance of speaking up about dizziness. They should know it is very important they tell their doctor and caregivers if they ever experience dizziness or lightheadedness, because these issues can be caused by many factors that need to be addressed. One example may be that their blood pressure drops when they go from laying down to standing too quickly. Furthermore, dehydration is a commonly overlooked factor that can cause dizziness, so be sure senior family members know to drink sufficient amounts of water each day (or, as suggested by their health care professional).
Start your November off with a celebration of the seniors that bless your lives by helping to make their lives safer through falls awareness and prevention. Falls may seem so easy to prevent, and they are, with a little education, attention and planning. Keep the seniors in your life healthy and happy for this upcoming holiday season by helping them prevent falls. Give us a call today if you have any concerns about the safety of a senior you know. Sometimes a helping hand is all that’s’ needed to prevent a painful fall.