“According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in three seniors will experience a fall this year”. Unfortunately, not even half of them talk to their doctor about it, despite the fall being the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in seniors. A fall can cause broken bones, fractures, and severe head injuries. Even in cases where the injury isn’t serious, a fall can scare seniors to stop doing certain activities that they start considering as risky.
If you have an aging loved one, several things can help you reduce their risk of falling. The first thing is to know the common factors that may lead to a fall. While these factors can vary depending on the person, here are some of the most generic ones.
- Aging and inactivity: these two culprits can result in poorer coordination, less flexibility, and improper balance, increasing the chances of a fall.
- Impaired vision: as the number of years piles up, the amount of light reaching the retina decreases. Diminished visibility makes seeing the trip hazard and other little obstacles in your pathway harder.
- Frequent medication: Several prescriptions and even over-the-counter drugs can cause dizziness, especially to seniors. This dizziness can increase the risk of a fall.
- Chronic diseases and physical conditions: A vast majority of older adults have chronic conditions such as arthritis, stroke, or diabetes. These conditions can lead to inactivity, pain, or lost function, indirectly increasing the risk of a fall.
- Taking charge of the situation
Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot you can do to eliminate or even minimize the impact of above risk factors, however, there are several things that help you reduce the chances of a fall.
Get rid of all the tripping hazards
Keeping your home neat and tidy is an easy way of preventing falls. Remove clutters such as stacks of old newspapers, kid’s toys, and other things, especially from staircases, hallways, and close to the doors. Likewise, several fixtures including loose carpet, wood floorboards that stick up, and especially slippery throw rugs can contribute to falls.
Another major tripping hazard is the stairs. You can’t get rid of them, but you can limit your senior’s use of stairs and try to avoid it during night time.
Chances of an elder falling in the bathroom are even higher for several reasons. There are many slippery surfaces such as tiles, bathtub, etc. and a little water can further increases slipperiness, and sitting down on the toilet or in the tub can cause numb legs which can lead to a fall.
Consider installing grab bars and railings, use shower chairs, and raised toilet seats. These devices can not only reduce chances of a fall but also make movement easier and the overall experience hassle-free. For instance, the best shower chair will be safe as well as comfy to let your senior enjoy their shower without any accidents or stress. It’s also great to have a caregiver or other helper during bathroom visits if the senior is disabled.
Ensure proper lighting
Most seniors have a weaker eyesight due to aging, medication and other conditions; poor lighting can further decrease visibility and increase chances of fall. Brighter bulbs in hallways and stairways and night-lights in bedrooms can make your home more suitable for the elderly.
Be mindful of what you wear
Loose clothes are comfy, but very baggy clothes that hang off the body can be a tripping or tangling hazard. Moreover, wearing shoes is better than wearing just socks. Socks are comfy but can increase the risk of a slip. If wearing shoes is a hassle, consider getting non-slip socks.
Make your house a slip-free zone
Get rid of any slippery throw rugs, fix loose carpet, add non-slip mats to your bathtubs, showers, and kitchen floors. Try to avoid water spills, and if it does happen, clean up as soon as you can.