Fall Prevention 101
August 27, 2013 | Found In: Caregiver Tips
A fall can result in very serious consequences, especially for seniors. Each year, one in every three adults age 65 and older falls; unintentional falls are the leading cause of death by injury and the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions in this age group. Even if someone is not physically injured by a fall, the memory of the fall can cause many people to develop a fear around the possibility of falling. This fear may result in an avoidance of once loved activities, reducing mobility and actually increasing the risk of falling. Here are some ways to reduce your or a loved one’s risk of falling:
- Exercise: Seniors who stay physically active improve their balance, flexibility and strength. Exercise is also known to reduce stress and depression, improving mental well-being. When walking, wear sturdy shoes and bring a cane for added balance, if needed.
- Regular eye exams: Vision changes make it tough for older eyes to adjust to varying levels of light or perceive depth and distance. It’s important that older adults visit their ophthalmologists at least once a year to ensure their eyeglass prescriptions maximize their vision clarity. In addition to correcting vision problems, regular visits will detect possible diseases like glaucoma that could greatly hinder vision quality.
- Increase home safety: Make sure that there is sufficient lighting in every room and hallway throughout the home. Motion-activated or timer lights can be especially useful during the winter when days are shorter. A flashlight should be within easy reach at all times. Reduce tripping hazards by ensuring that all rugs are secured under furniture and no furniture or electrical cords are blocking walking areas. Rugs with highly-contrasting dark and light patterns can interfere with depth perception and should be avoided or replaced. Add grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower and next to the toilet; consider non-slip strips or a shower bench to improve bathroom safety. Firmly secured handrails on both sides of the stairways and outside steps are helpful in decreasing fall risk for seniors. You may also consider rugs or non-stick mats on tiled and wood floors to reduce the risk of slipping.
- Consider in-home care: Hiring a caregiver who can provide hourly or around the clock assistance will ensure your loved one is safe and provide you with peace of mind knowing he or she is being taken care of by a trusted individual; the caregiver will make sure your loved one doesn’t fall or encounter another dangerous situation.
Next time you see your mom, dad or other loved one, make sure he or she is exercising regularly, getting routine eye check-ups and keeping his or her house free of any hazards that may result in a fall.