Fall Prevention in Elderly
Falls are a leading cause of injury in elderly. It’s a serious concern for many and a topic that should be discussed and addressed. There are various causes of why you may be more at risk for falls as you age. There are also ways to minimize the chances of falling in your home to prevent serious injuries. Fall prevention in elderly is important to maintain optimal health.
According to the National Health Council on Aging, “Falls result in more than 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths.”
Are you concerned about falling or have you had a fall in your home recently? Let’s take a look at the reasons why you may be at risk and what to do to make your home safer.
Causes and Risks for Falls
Falls can result in broken bones, torn ligaments, bruises and even death. As we age, our bodies tend to become less flexible and we can develop conditions like osteoporosis, making our bones fragile and more prone to fractures.
Living with the anxiety of falling may cause you to become fearful, it can limit your mobility and your quality of life. It can even bring on conditions like depression and panic attacks.
Falls can be caused by vision problems, including blurry vision. You’re more likely to bump into things and fall if you can’t see your surroundings properly. Also, some medications can cause drowsiness or sleepiness. It’s important to talk to your doctor and be aware of the side-effects of your medications. Drowsiness can make you feel weak upon standing from a sitting position and put you at risk of falling.
Another risk factor for falls is stairs. Stairs are one of the most common places that falls occur. Also, clutter around the home and furniture in places where you regularly walk can increase your chances of putting yourself in danger for falling.
And, of course, aging brings on the risks of a variety of health conditions that may weaken our bodies. Conditions like diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis and high blood pressure put you at greater risk for falls.
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Ways to Prevent Falls
There are many ways to make your home safe and secure to minimize your chances of falling.
Wear Comfortable Footwear
Rubber-soled or non-skid shoes can help prevent falls. Many brands like Silvert’s, for example, are geared towards the older population and designed for fall prevention, comfort and also the ease of getting in and out of the house.
Stand Up Slowly
This goes without saying, but you may not realize that you are getting up too quickly. Getting up too quickly can cause dizziness and weakness. Get out of bed in stages; sit up first, wait and then stand up slowly. If you feel any wooziness, sit back down.
Have an Eye Exam
When was your last eye exam? Your eyes may need to be checked by an eye doctor and your glasses may need to be adjusted. Conditions like cataracts and glaucoma can also affect your vision and put you at risk for falls.
Take a look in and around your home and spot the potential dangers. Is there a chair in the way? Are there boxes on the floor? It may be time to roll up that rug and get it out of your way.
Grab Bars and Handrails
Install sturdy handrails on all stairs inside and out of your house. You can also add grab bars in the bathroom, where a lot of falls can occur.
Assistive Safety Devices
Many assistive and safety devices exist to help the elderly feel more secure in their homes. You may want to purchase a walker if you have had a previous fall or feel uneasy walking about your home. Home accessories like walk-in tubs can greatly minimize the risk of tub falls.
Wearing an emergency call button is an excellent idea, especially if you live alone. Medical alert systems can be a source of comfort and relief for you and your family, should a fall occur.
We cannot stop the aging process and the health issues that come along with it. What we can do is help our bodies age in a healthier way. Staying fit is the best way to keep your bones strong and your muscles flexible. Talk to your doctor about what the best physical activities are for you. You may be restricted because of certain existing conditions.
Knowing that falls are very common in the elderly, it is important to make sure that you reduce your risks of injuring yourself. A few simple changes in your home environment can diminish the chances of falling and preventative measures like a call button can help alleviate anxiety so you can live the life you enjoy.