Every second of every day, an older adult (age 65+) suffers from a fall in the U.S. One in four seniors reported suffering from a fall at least once in the past year, making falls the leading cause of injury and death among elderly adults.
Reading the statistics about falls among older adults can often be very scary. You certainly don’t want this happening to you or your friends, which is why the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has provided measures not only to help prevent future falls but help seniors recognize potential fall hazards within their homes.
Even though it may be scary, acknowledging the prevalence of falls among older adults is very important. Falls are preventable, and they do not have to be an inevitable part of your aging process. With just a few lifestyle and environmental changes, you can make yourself or your loved ones safer. Read on to learn about the fall prevention seniors need.
The Risk Factors for Falling Among Older Adults
Several factors can lead to the falling of older adults. First, as we age, our physical strength and balance weaken, making it more challenging for us to perform everyday activities. Another common risk is vision loss. Even if you are in great health, it can be very difficult to navigate around obstacles in your home and changes in ground level.
Health conditions like Alzheimer’s and arthritis also increase your risk of falling. These chronic diseases are one of the contributing factors to falls because they directly affect our balance, physical strength, and cognitive function. These chronic diseases and physical health conditions not only increase the chances of you falling but also increase your chances of being given a medical prescription.
The use of medical prescriptions increases the chances of falls for older people. Certain drugs such as blood pressure medicines, sedatives, antidepressants, or anti-anxiety medications can cause a variety of side effects that can be harmful when doing everyday activities. Side effects can include drowsiness, dizziness, and low blood pressure resulting in an accident. Discussing the use of any medication with your doctor can help reduce the risk of falling.
Basic Fall Prevention Tips for Seniors
It is important to take into account your risk factors as you plan for fall prevention. An effective fall prevention program covers a variety of risk factors as explained above. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has also provided a checklist to help you identify your risk factors.
Exercise: Improving Strength and Balance
Exercise and physical activity are great not only for improving our overall health but also for fall prevention. A minor fall can be prevented by focusing on improving balance, coordination, muscle strength, and flexibility. To improve these areas of our health, we must have an exercise program or regiment. This might seem scary however, a common question that arises among older adults is “how do I stay safe and prevent a fall while exercising?” Getting yourself a physical therapist is a great option for improving your physical strength and balance while getting the most out of your exercise program.
A physical therapist can offer a variety of great fall prevention strategies since muscle weakness is one of the core reasons for fall injuries. The improvement of overall balance and stability is crucial because it helps decrease any chances of minor or major falls. Physical therapy is a great option for ensuring you are not prone to falling. It plays a vital part in preventative care, rehabilitation from in-home falls, and treatments to boost your overall health.
Another great physical activity for an older adult is tai chi. This is a gentle form of exercise that focuses on graceful movement and balance.
Regardless of what exercise you decide to choose, your primary focus should be to get moving and stay active. Any program that includes balance, strength training, and low-impact cardio is great for improving overall health and preventing serious injuries.
Home Modifications: Removing Tripping Hazards
There are many simple and inexpensive modifications you can make to your home that can help to prevent future falls. Getting professional help from an occupational therapist is one of the best options you can move forward with. They provide great insights into modifications you can make to your home such as increasing lighting and fall-proofing your stairs by installing guard rails.
The modifications explained cover many common scenarios that are the primary reasons for older adult falls. They are common steps to take to reduce your risk of falling.
Fall Prevention Products: Assistive Devices and Shoes
With so many options out there to choose from, it can be hard to decide what products are best for you. One of the most important things you can invest in for preventing falls is assistive devices that help you navigate throughout your home.
Assistive devices can also help improve the safety of your home. In the bathroom, for instance, you can install grab bars or put a sturdy chair in the shower to prevent the chance of you falling.
One of the easiest things you can do to prevent a fall from occurring is to wear shoes that provide a maximum amount of floor contact. You will want to avoid high heels, flip flops, slippers, or shoes with slick soles as they put you at a high risk of falling.
What To Do If You Fall
We all know that accidents happen, but the scary part about most falls is that they can cause serious injury. Falls are more likely to occur as we age since we get physically weaker, especially our bones, making us more susceptible to falling and getting injured. Even if you take precautionary measures such as the ones we listed, you may still fall. So what should you do?
Getting up from a sudden fall can be very difficult as well as scary. It’s important to pause and take a few deep breaths. Once you are calm and collected, you will want to assess whether you can get up on your own or need to call for assistance. If you are in excruciating pain immediately call 911 and remain in a comfortable position until help arrives. No matter the circumstances or outcome of the fall, you will want to reach out to your doctor regarding any potential injuries sustained during the fall.
The Importance of Getting Help Immediately After a Fall
Falls prevention for older adults is very important; however, getting help after a fall is just as, if not more important. Seeking medical attention is essential because it can prevent further injury and broken bones. Even though you may feel okay now, many symptoms don’t show right away.
At Foxtail Senior Living, family is our number one priority. This means that we treat our residents as if they are our family members to prevent any falls from occurring. This allows them to live their life to the fullest by feeling safe and comfortable. To learn more about us or for more information on the services we provide, visit our website today.