Fall Prevention For Seniors Super Guide
Falls can occur in any age group. It’s a common occurrence that happens to everyone at some point in their lives, whether it’s while learning to walk, running for any reason, or simply taking an evening stroll. While many falls result in minor injuries, it’s not always that simple, especially for older adults. The risk of moderate to severe injury or even death as a result of a fall is highest among the elderly, and this danger only increases as we age.
Numerous medical organizations have reported concerning statistics on the frequency and impact of falls. For example, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), “falls are the second most common cause of accidental injury deaths in the world. Also, falls are the leading cause of injury in adults over the age of 60”.
The following are some statistics relating to falls according to the Public Health Agency of Canada:
- approximately 1 in 3 Canadian seniors (aged 65 and older) will experience a fall each year, and falls account for approximately 85% of injury-related hospitalizations among this age group
- approximately 50% of falls resulting in hospitalization among older adults in Canada occur at home
- falls accounted for approximately 40% of all injury-related deaths among seniors in Canada.
Causes of Falls
Falls are a common occurrence among older adults and seniors and can result from various factors, including accidents, health complications associated with aging, and side effects of medical therapy. The following factors contribute significantly to the incidence of falls:
Older adults are more susceptible to falls due to the natural aging process, which often results in diminished eyesight, muscle weakness, and poor hearing, among other conditions that can increase the risk of falling.
Some prescription and over-the-counter medications have side effects that can lead to dizziness and affect balance, increasing the risk of falls. Examples include anti-hypertensive drugs, anti-anxiety drugs, and sedatives.
- Disease Conditions
Arthritis, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular diseases, and other conditions can cause reduced physical strength, confusion, muscle weakness, and disruption of body balance, all of which contribute to the incidence of falls.
- Lack of Adequate Exercise
Inadequate exercise can lead to muscle weakness and increased risk of obesity, which places stress on the legs and makes the body unbalanced, increasing the risk of falls. Physical therapy may be necessary to regain muscle strength.
- Fear of Falling
The fear of falling can also increase the risk of falls, as seniors may restrict their physical activity, leading to muscle stiffness and weakness, which can increase the likelihood of falling.
Fall Prevention Tips For Seniors And Their Loved Ones
Preventing falls at home doesn’t always require extensive renovations. A few simple adjustments can go a long way towards reducing fall-related injuries and emergency department visits among older adults. Here are some tips to help prevent falls and reduce risk factors:
Maintain a Clean Home Environment
A clean and orderly living space is crucial in reducing fall-related injuries. Make sure to properly store things like stacks of magazines and equipment. It is also important to declutter as it helps with a clean environment.
Keep Pathways Trip-Free
Objects that are “tripping dangers” like electrical cords should be properly rolled up and kept to reduce the risk of them tripping. Outside of the house, make sure to have the driveways/walkways shoveled and sanded/salted to prevent slipping during our Canadian winters.
Carry out periodic maintenance all over your home or have someone do it for you if you are unable to do it yourself. Examine the entire home periodically to ensure that there are no loose fittings or loose carpets and throw rugs to prevent falls. If loose fittings are found, they should be repaired immediately and any loose throw rug or carpet should be appropriately placed to help keep your loved one from injury.
Install Equipment And Grab Bars
Install grab bars along stairs, near or in bathtubs, and close to the toilet seat to prevent falls. An alternative to grab bars by the stairs is investing in a stair lift, which can automatically move users up and down the stairs with little effort. An alternative to grab bars for bathtubs is walk-in tubs, which users can easily step into and sit for bathing rather than standing.
Engage in Regular Exercise
Increased physical activity helps reduce the risk of fall-related injuries. Exercise helps to keep the muscles strong and maintain balance. You do not need to join a gym to enjoy the health benefits of exercise. Being active overall can help. Activities such as walking outside, hiking, and cycling can all have benefits with just 30 minutes a day. Exercise helps to keep the muscles from growing weak and to keep you from gaining unnecessary weight, that may also affect balance. Exercising is a good method of fall prevention but use caution as some activities can also cause you to lose balance more easily.
Physical activities tips: online apps like Google walk, the Nike fitness app amidst others could help in setting goals as well as monitoring real-time. They also send out reminders to assist in remembering. This can help improve balance overall.
With regular exercise, balance and muscle strength should be gained and overall healthy should improve which can help prevent falls.
Use of Non-Slip Items
In a very slippery environment like the bathroom, Non slip mats can be installed in bathtubs to provide grip and thereby reduce the incidence of falls. A bath seat may also be installed to reduce standing and falling in the bathroom.
Seniors should wear flat, non-slip footwear with high traction. High heels or shoes with lift are not recommended because it increases the risk of falling.
Light switches should be easily accessible, and strategic locations in the home, and night lights can aid mobility at night.
Ensure that lighting in the home is optimal. Light switches should be easily accessible, and strategic locations in the home. Installing night lights can aid mobility at night, especially along route to the bathrooms. Lighting in areas such as stairs and passageways should be bright enough to provide sufficient visibility, not just at night time. You may also want to consider technology such as home automation, which can help light the home when and where you are within your home. Some devices allow you to also operate it using your mobile device.
Use of Walking Aids
Walking aids like canes, walkers, and rollators can be utilized to help maintain balance in the body and reduce the risk of a fall. Walking aids help by stabilizing the user’s body and assist in walking. Using a walking aid can also reduce the amount of physical effort required to move around, making it easier for individuals to remain active and independent. Walking aids come in a variety of forms, including canes, walkers, and rollators, and can be tailored to meet the specific needs and abilities of each individual.
Medical Check-ups and Drug Prescriptions
Ask your doctor or pharmacist about possible side effects of prescribed drugs, and make regular appointments for vision and auditory checkups to improve hearing and vision. If the drugs prescribed can increase the tendency for falls, then reduce movement or use a walking aid while on the medication. Inform your doctor about falls that may have occurred between checkups to ensure that no complications have arisen. Fall prevention can be decreased with the correct prescription of glasses and hearing aids. Often times, people overlook the necessity of these devices and how it can help with awareness and balance.
How to Prevent Falls for Seniors
Fall prevention can be achieved through simple adjustments and awareness of risk factors. Seniors and their loved ones can use fall prevention strategies such as maintain a clean home environment, keep pathways trip-free, carry out periodic maintenance, install grab bars, engage in regular exercise, use non-slip items, wear proper footwear, ensure proper lighting, use walking aids where necessary, and undergo regular medical check-ups and drug prescriptions. By following these steps, seniors can reduce their risk of falling and improve their overall health and well-being.
Taking all the precautions, falls may still occur around the house. Because of this, ensure you or your loved ones have easy access to emergency health services, by using devices and services like a medical alert. Medical alert services in addition to providing emergency services also help seniors to identify risk factors and offer them advice on how to reduce the risk of falling. They also monitor the body vitals of users such as blood pressure and send out daily device monitoring probes.
Know that you can reduce and prevent future falls in your home and in so doing, guarantee a safe and fall preventative environment for your loved ones.
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