When I assess the safety of an elderly loved one in their home, I always inquire about recent falls. If a person has had a fall, they are more likely to fall again. Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults. Sources state that one-third of people over the age of 65
As we get older, falls happen more often, and they cause more serious injuries. One common serious injury is a broken hip. This often leads to surgery and the complications that go with it.
How Falls Start
There are many reasons that older people fall: they become weaker, have diminishing eyesight, take medications that cause unsteadiness, wear the wrong shoes, have balance problems, and fail to use walkers or canes when needed.
I have noticed that many falls involve trips to the bathroom. Often when I have asked a resident or client how they fell; they say they were trying to get to the bathroom “on time”.
The best way to prevent a fall is to build strength (
Consider the top 5 ways to prevent falls at home:
- Remove anything on the floor that can be tripped over. Throw rugs are the most obvious culprit. Other clutter is hazardous as well and should be removed from the floor. Remove anything from the floor between the bed and the bathroom.
- Buy and wear good shoes with a non-slip surface. Examples of good shoes for seniors
- Invest in good lighting, especially motion sensitive night lights. Night lights with motion sensors
- Work with a physical therapist to learn the proper use of a walker or a cane.
- Hire a personal trainer or attend an exercise class for seniors to improve balance and muscle strength.
Not all people who fall are old, and not all old people fall. I fell down all the basement steps in my home a few years ago. All 15 steps. As I was falling, I was thinking that I was probably going to break my leg or my neck. After the shock wore off, I laid at the bottom of those stairs, and realized I was completely uninjured. I was about 50 years old at the time. I think the outcome would have been tragic if I was 20 or 30 years older. It was good motivation to maintain as much bone and muscle strength as possible! It sure seemed like a wake up call!
People who experience a fall may become fearful of falling again and become less active. This makes another fall more likely because inactivity causes the loss of strength. Try to avoid this unfortunate circle of events by pursuing strength and balance now!
Not all falls happen at home. Even residents of assisted living and nursing homes experience falls. The incidence is usually less than at home because there is more supervision and more assistance available to those residents who have been identified as having a higher risk.
Should you consider a move to assisted living?
The Merck Manual states that people who live with someone else have fewer health problems, and can include fewer falls. The benefits of living with other people.
Your care team in assisted living or senior community can make sure you take your medications correctly and will help you stay active in a safe environment. As you interact with other people at meals and in activities, it is likely to be noticeable if you aren’t feeling well or have a change in your health.
Staying at Home
If you choose to stay at home, make sure you have an alert system to get help in the case of
If you’re concerned about your aging loved one’s safety, please contact me. I can help you determine the best solution for their care and safety.