One of the biggest fears for someone over the age of 65 is falling. Millions of aging in place seniors fall every year, resulting in hip fractures, broken arms and head injuries. Unfortunately, many never fully recover from their fall-related injuries, and some end up losing their freedom and independence all together. If you’re currently taking care of an aging in place family member, helping them devise a good fall prevention strategy is important. What follows are 4 safety tips that every family caregiver should know.
Fall-Related Statistics are Alarming
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- 25% of all Americans aged 65-and-over fall every year.
- Every 11 seconds, an older adult receives medical attention in an emergency department for fall-related injuries.
- Every 19 minutes, an elderly person dies from fall-related injuries.
- Falls are the number one cause of both fatal injuries and nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions for the elderly.
- In an average year, falls result in 2.8 million injuries that require emergency room visits, roughly 800,000 hospitalizations and over 27,000 deaths.
As a family caregiver, these statistics are certainly alarming. A fear of falling also keeps many older adults from participating in activities and staying socially engaged. And, that’s simply not good for their continued health and wellbeing.
Devising a Good Fall Prevention Strategy
Fortunately, most falls are preventable. To help ensure a higher quality of life for your loved one, here are 4 key elements to include in your fall-prevention strategy:
Most falls occur in the home, so go around your loved one’s and look for ways to make it safer. Some of the safety modifications that you may want to consider include:
- Bathroom – Install grab bars in the bathing area and near the toilet. Place non-skid strips in the tub and remove slippery throw rugs from the room. Make sure the bathroom has adequate lighting and get them a shower seat and hand-held shower nozzle.
- Trip hazards – Eliminate clutter and trip hazards around the home, like small pieces of furniture, electrical cords and area rugs. If they own a pet, make sure that it’s bed, food and water bowls are away from foot traffic areas.
- Stairways – Attach secure railings on both sides of the stairs and make sure that the steps are well lit. If your loved one has vision problems, place fluorescent strips on the front of each step for added security.
If you notice your senior squinting a lot while watching TV, take them to an eye doctor for an examination. Sometimes a new pair of eyeglasses makes a world of difference when it comes to fall prevention. If your loved one is prescribed bifocals, make sure they know how to use them while negotiating stairs. If their lenses are photo sensitive, tell them to wait a few minutes until they get clear again after entering a building and before walking up steps.
Is your senior holding onto walls or furniture just to get around? If so, ask their doctor to do a balance assessment, as they may need an assistive device like a walker or cane to help support their weight. Regular exercise improves balance, coordination and muscle strength, so encourage your loved one to participate in low-impact forms of exercise like Yoga, walking or water aerobics. And, buy them a pair of comfortable shoes with non-skid soles.
Some prescription and OTC medications can cause drowsiness and poor balance, especially ones that contain sleep aids or strong pain relievers. Not taking medications as prescribed can also cause light headedness and throw off balance. Devise a good medication management system for your loved one and speak to their doctor if medication side effects are a concern.
An Extra Layer of Protection in Your Senior’s Home
Preventing falls in your senior’s home can be hard when you’re not there. If you need some extra support, contact Family Services of Central Massachusetts. As a fully licensed home care agency, our professional caregivers are passionate about keeping seniors safe so they can keep aging comfortably in place right where they want to be. In addition to fall prevention, our experienced aides can provide in-home daily living assistance for meals, light housekeeping, grocery shopping, prescription pickups, personal care, laundry and escorted transportation.
As an independence-focused, cost-effective alternative to assisted living, the FSCM family is here to help yours using a proven process that’s backed by attention to detail and expertise. To learn more about Family Services of Central Massachusetts now, please visit us at: www.fscm.org!