5 Tips for Preventing Falls Among Elderly Loved Ones
Fall Prevention at Home in the Elderly
Every year, around three million falls occur in people ages 65 and older, making falling a leading cause of injury for elderly people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that of those three million fall incidents, more than 800,000 older adult patients annually are hospitalized with an injury, most commonly a concussion or hip fracture.
It goes without saying that falls in elderly can be costly—both financially and in terms of mental and physical well-being. Thankfully, most falls can be prevented if the right actions are taken. At Advanced Nursing + Home Support, we take fall prevention at home in the elderly seriously. Here, we’ll discuss the factors that cause older adults to fall, as well as tips to prevent falls in the elderly.
Factors that Cause Falls in Elderly People
Before you can prevent elderly falls, you first have to understand what causes seniors to fall in the first place. There are several factors that raise older adults’ risk of falling, and unfortunately, many of these same factors also increase elderly individuals’ risk of being seriously injured if they do fall.
- Loss of balance: Balance and coordination begins to decline in many people as they age. For those who have a loss of muscle control or muscle tone due to illness, decreased mobility, or inactivity, the possibility of falling is increased. Along with aiding in balance, muscles also protect bones and joints, so individuals who have suffered muscle loss are more likely to break a bone or damage a joint upon impact.
- Medications: New or increased dosages of medications can cause dizziness or other interactions that could lead to a fall.
- Reduced vision: Less light reaches the retina in older eyes, which makes contrasting edges, obstacles, or other hazards difficult to see. When depth perception and spatial awareness become impeded, individuals are more at risk for miscalculating a step down or bumping into objects.
- Tripping hazards: Many seniors don’t realize their homes may present tripping hazards until a fall happens. Cluttered floors, loose carpeting or extension cords, or other environmental hazards that weren’t a problem several years ago may prove dangerous now.
- Illness: Many older adults suffer from a chronic condition, such as heart disease or diabetes. These conditions often require medications, or present with a loss of mobility or stability that can raise falling risk.
Tips to Prevent Falls in the Elderly
While falling can have disastrous consequences, the good news is that fall prevention at home for elderly individuals is entirely possible. Follow these simple tips for keeping your loved one safe and out of harm’s way.
- Remove hazards in the home: Similar to baby-proofing your home as a new parent, you should also do a safety check of your elderly loved one’s environment—especially if they are going to be home alone. Make sure boxes, coffee tables, and other items are not blocking high-traffic areas. Check that electrical cords and power strips are tucked away or secured to walls and furniture. Fix any loose floorboards, and tack down the edges of area rugs with double-sided tape or slip-resistant liners. Install non-slip liners in showers and bathtubs. Keep all essential clothing, dishes, and personal care items within easy reach to avoid the need to stretch.
- Watch for shakiness: If you notice your loved one holding onto walls, furniture, or another person when moving around an area, it may be because they are losing their sense of balance. You may also notice that your loved one has begun to have difficulties sitting or rising from chairs. If you see these behaviors develop suddenly, or notice them for the first time, it may be time to seek evaluation by a physical therapist or primary care doctor to see if there’s a medical issue that can be corrected.
- Brighten lighting: Aging eyesight makes it more difficult to see dangers under what would otherwise be deemed sufficient light. Preventing falls in elderly is sometimes as simple as brightening the room. Keep flashlights and table lamps close at hand and install nightlights in all rooms and hallways. Consider switching out traditional light switches with illuminated switches or motion sensors.
- Ensure clothing fits properly: Ill-fitting clothes are at risk for catching on something and causing a fall. This is especially problematic for pants and skirts, which can drag on the ground and get caught beneath feet or on pieces of furniture. Help ensure your loved one’s safety by either purchasing properly fitting clothing or having too-big pieces altered to be safe.
- Install assistive devices: For some older adults, canes or walkers may be recommended to help maintain balance. Other in-home modifications can be made to create a safer environment, including handrails or grab bars on stairs or near toilets and bathtubs. Raised toilet seats are easy to install and help decrease the risk of falling. Adding a plastic seat and non-slip mats to showers or tubs make bathing safer and more comfortable.
- Encourage mobility exercises: Falls arise from a combination of factors, but one of the best ways to prevent serious injuries from falls is to build a strong foundation of muscle and bones that can withstand impact. Taking regular walks, lifting light weights with arms and legs, and even doing chair yoga and mobility exercises go a long way in toning muscles and maintaining critical bone density and muscle mass.
Trust Advanced Nursing + Home Support to Prevent Elderly Falls
With falls being the leading cause of injury among older populations, it can be nerve-wrecking to think about leaving your aging loved one at home alone. At Advanced Nursing + Home Support, we’re committed to keeping individuals safe and well-cared for at home, so you can rest assured that your loved one is in good hands even when you’re not around.
If you have a loved one who needs in-home care or post-accident care in Maryland or the D.C. area, take the first step towards peace of mind and contact Advanced Nursing + Home Support today. We provide unparalleled service from experienced, compassionate skilled nursing care providers.
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phone at 240-414-4147 to request more information.