Prevent Senior Citizen Falls by Creating a Safer Environment
Elderly Accidents and Falls are Frightfully Common
Every year, one in four American seniors (age 65+) suffers a fall due to issues related to aging. This is approximately 36 million falls, resulting in over 32,000 deaths and 3 million emergency room visits. To put this statistic into another context, an older citizen somewhere in the United States falls every second of every day. Unsurprisingly, falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal death among senior citizens.
At Griswold Home Care of Miami-Dade, we recognize that falls are a public health concern that demands attention. Falls can cause debilitating injuries. 300,000 elders are hospitalized for hip fractures annually, and more than 95% of these hip fractures result from falling (usually sideways).
In fact, one in five falls among seniors causes a significant injury, including:
- Broken bones
- Hip fractures
- Ankle sprains
- Pulled muscles
- Head injuries
Older adults can also experience psychological setbacks due to falls. Falling can make an individual lose confidence and become fearful of remaining active, leading to an unhealthy lifestyle. Although some falls are unavoidable, many might have been prevented had proper precautionary measures been followed.
Today, we will discuss common factors contributing to the heightened risk of falling among seniors and provide solutions for mitigating this risk significantly. Hopefully, this advice will help more seniors stay healthy, safe, and independent.
Why Falls Increase with Age
Declining Coordination, Flexibility, and Balance
As we age, body muscles weaken and coordination declines. This physical deterioration can make it difficult for elders to maintain proper balance while walking or performing everyday tasks. To prevent falls related to balance issues, seniors should exercise regularly to strengthen their muscles and increase flexibility. Simple activities such as walking around the neighborhood or performing chair exercises can help improve balance and flexibility. Sometimes, something as simple as wearing proper footwear can make a difference. Finally, it is never unwise to ask a physical therapist and/or podiatrist for advice on improving gait and stability.
With aging, one’s vision can become increasingly strained, blurry, and cloudy. Eye health naturally declines over time as less light reaches the retina. Common conditions, such as cataracts and glaucoma, can limit vision. These conditions can lead to difficulty spotting contrasting shapes, soft edges, and obstacles, causing tripping hazards.
To reduce the risk of falls due to poor vision, seniors should get routine eye exams to update their prescription glasses as necessary. It is also wise to install high-powered lamps and overhead lighting that one can easily operate via remote control. Reducing the need to walk across any space in the dark is an excellent way to avoid falls.
Chronic Healthy Conditions
Most older adults have at least one chronic condition (arthritis, diabetes, stroke, etc.). The symptoms of these conditions can result in reduced motor function, activity, and mobility, making an individual more prone to falling. Seniors with chronic conditions should know their limitations, stay up-to-date on medical appointments, and perform light stretching exercises whenever possible.
Side-Effects from Medications
Certain prescriptions, herbal supplements, and over-the-counter medications may cause dizziness, lightheadedness, or sleepiness. Some even have cognitive side effects that might lead to falls. To avoid these issues, seniors should talk with their doctor about possible tripping hazards due to prescribed medications. When informed of symptoms like dizziness and unsteadiness, a doctor can adjust dosages appropriately or recommend alternative medications if necessary.
Most elderly individuals need modifications made to their environment to improve safety and mobility as they age. Fortunately, there are various home safety devices on the market to improve stability, mobility, and safety. such as grab bars by toilets or bathtubs which can help reduce the risk of slipping or falling while getting into or out of the shower/bathtub.
Popular accessories for improving home safety among elderly demographics include:
- Raised toilet seats with handles – An elevated toilet seat can provide extra stability, allowing seniors to use the restroom without having to bend down too far.
- Anti-grip coating on floors – This solution can prevent slips and trips on wet surfaces in the bathroom, where most accidents occur due to slippery tiles/floors/etc.
- Staircase railings – Handrails should be installed on both sides of a staircase with non-slip mats at each step for extra stability while climbing stairs.
- Assistive devices (canes, wheelchairs, and walkers) – If mobility is an issue, it is essential to support oneself with the necessary equipment.
- Grab bars – Few devices improve stability in bathrooms and showers as effectively as a grab bar or a grab pol. These accessories offer elders something to hold onto while standing on the wet, slippery floor.
In addition to installing these gadgets and amenities, it is always wise to keep walkways clear of clutter and tripping hazards.
Hire A Professional Caregiver
If you are concerned about the mobility and safety of an elderly parent, grandparent, or neighbor, its often beneficial to seek outside help. Griswold Home Care of Miami-Dade is committed to helping senior citizens reduce their risk of falling. We know how incapacitating a hip fracture or similar injury can be for an aging individual. Falls among senior citizens are of particular concern because they can potentially cause long-term disabilities.
Fortunately, it is possible to mitigate the chances of falling by proactively following the measures mentioned above. We refer caregivers trained to help. Professional assistance can be a lifesaver when it comes to optimizing in-home safety. We can help remove clutter, conduct safety assessments, recommend accessories, perform difficult chores, and assist with overall mobility. By implementing these practical solutions, we can create a safer environment to prevent unexpected slips and falls.
To lear more about how we can refer personal in-home care services, give us a call at (305) 400-0766 today!
If you or an aging loved one are considering non-medical in-home care in Miami-Dade, FL, call Griswold Home Care
and speak to one of our caring staff members today. Call (305) 400-0766