From slippery floors to electric cords lying around, many items can trip a senior in the home. One-third of seniors in the US fall each year with many ending up in ER for bone fractures and other injuries. Repeated falling can even make seniors develop a fear of falling. This fear can then make them withdraw from physical activities to avoid falling, only to become weaker and less fit. This can create a vicious cycle.
Understanding why Seniors Fall
Any factor that affects balance will also lead to falling. There are many fall prevention tips out there for seniors. Gaining a deeper understanding of them will let you determine the ones that are most relevant to the wellbeing of your loved one. It will also help you ask the right questions when with the doctor.
Causes and Risk Factors for Falling
Factors that contribute to senior falling can be internal or external.
These are the physiological triggers of falling in seniors, they include the following:
- An imbalance caused by chronic diseases
- Medications and their side effects
- Cognitive problems in older adults
- Poor vision and weak muscles
Some external factors contribute to frequent falling in seniors, they are:
- Walking around in dim lights
- Presence of challenging obstacles such as stairs in the home or walkway
- Wearing baggy and poorly fitted clothes
- Walking on low friction surfaces such as polished and bathroom floors
- Engaging in physically demanding activities without taking precautions
Fall Prevention in Seniors
Some steps you can take to prevent falling are discussed below:
1. Manage medication side effects
If a medication or its side effect directly impact your balance or consciousness, you can plan your daily activities around it so that you only engage in physical activity when the effects have worn off. It is also possible to reduce or replace a particular drug if it disrupts your regular activities.
2. Maintain an active and healthy lifestyle
Encourage your loved one to stay active and eat a balanced diet so their muscles and bone can be strengthened. You can do this by letting them engage in exercises that are safe for seniors as allowed by your healthcare specialist.
3. Home Rearrangement
Some people become attached to their home and its looks over time. If that is the case with your loved one, you have some convincing to do before you are allowed to rearrange furniture and other interior décors to create enough space for free movement.
4. Remove clutter and falling hazards
You should remove every item that can cause you to fall, this may include charging cables, slipping mats or useless empty containers. If you have swinging and unbalanced doors in your home, remove them to prevent falling due to an impact. High friction floors and mats should also be installed in the home.
5. Wear the right clothes
Wear better-fitting clothes that don’t drag on the ground, because baggy clothes can increase your risk of falling. Also, pay attention to the shoes and make sure they don’t have open backs and loose laces.
6. Fall training
Another approach to prevention is to train seniors on how to fall. They can avoid serious injury by learning how to distribute the impact of fall on the whole body. The training should be done under the supervision of a professional physiotherapist.
7. Use Medical and Assistive devices
Your loved one may need a walking aid to help reduce the risk of falling but only when recommended by the doctor. Safety devices such as grab handles should be installed when necessary. Also, installing a medical alert system in the home of your loved one will help them get quick access to help when they need it.
8. Talk to your doctor
If you are susceptible to falls, you should speak with your doctor about it. You can work together with your doctor to discuss your specific risks and the ways to minimize them.
In seniors, suffering, incapacitation and lower quality of life may result from falling. The good news is that most of it is preventable! Don’t wait for your loved one to fall before taking the necessary preventive measures. You may need to hire a professional caregiver if your loved one requires regular monitoring to walk around safely.