Did you know that 1 in 4 older Americans fall every year? According to the CDC, less than half of those falls are appropriately reported to a physician and falling once more than doubles your chances to fall again.
One in five falls is considered serious (broken bone or head injury, etc) and could lead to death. If these stats continue in the same trending direction, we can anticipate seven fall related deaths every hour by 2030 – staggering!
Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries and hospitalizations in people aged 65+. Falls can result in broken bones, hip fractures, head injuries, etc. What’s more, is that the symptoms do not stop at physical injuries, many older adults can become fearful or depressed which will make it difficult to stay active and healthy.
So what can you do to protect your loved one? Helping them to reduce their risk of falling is a great way to keep them healthy and independent as long as possible.
5 Common Risk Factors
The first step in knowing how to prevent a fall is knowing the common factors that can lead to one:
- Balance & Gait – we often lose coordination, flexibility and balance as we age making it easier to fall.
- Vision – as the eye ages, less light reaches the retina which makes contrasting edges, peripheral vision and tripping hazards more difficult to recognize.
- Medications – some medications have symptoms listed that can cause dizziness, dehydration or other things that can influence the potential for falls.
- Environment – most of our elderly loved ones have lived in their homes for years and have not done many updates or simple modifications in the late years that may keep rooms safer.
- Chronic Conditions – most common chronic conditions like diabetes, arthritis, etc. result in loss of proper function, inactivity, depression, pain, etc and that can increase the risk of a fall.
6 Safety Steps to Reduce Falls
Often times, involving your loved ones in some of the safety precautions will help raise their awareness while maintaining their independence. Here are 6 simple steps to try:
- Open the lines of communication – ask your loved one about their concerns for falling and have a discussion to involve them in the plan of action to reduce the risk going forward.
- Have a group discussion with the doctor – evaluate the clinical risk perspective, review medications and associated side effects.
- Strength and balance exercises – it might be time to seek help from a physical therapist for strength exercises into their daily routine. Perhaps even a can or walker could be of assistance.
- Updated eye test – seniors should have their eyes tested once a year and always have their prescription updated, even with a slight change. Bifocal lenses are not always recommended; sometimes it is smart to have a second pair of just distance glasses for moving around.
- Safety Assessment of the home – consider using our Senior Home Safety Guide as a point of reference when evaluating the safety of your loved ones home. Some simple steps can really make a huge difference!
- Additional help in the home – talk to your loved one and their doctor about supplemental assistance in the home, such as a home health aide or personal care aide. Some of the more rigorous day to day tasks of maintaining life at home can be too cumbersome and additional help can be just what is needed!
At Premier Home Health Care, we offer both long-term and short-term care as part of your loved one’s home health care program. We specialize in tailoring a custom program to meet the exact needs of your loved one. If we can be of assistance, please do not hesitate to call us today at 866-720-0124 or consult our complimentary resource guides for getting started with home health care.