According to data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, millions of older individuals fall each year. One in three people aged 65 years or older falls each year and over 800,000 patients a year are hospitalized because of a fall injury. One out of five falls causes a serious injury such as a broken bone or head injury and the deaths rates of falls from 2007 to 2016 have increase by 30 percent.
There are a number of factors that can cause falls in older adults. For example, things like eyesight, hearing, and reflexes are less sensitive than they once were. Other health problems like diabetes, heart diseases, and other problems can influence and affect balance making it harder to stay upright. Similarly, medications that are being taken to alleviate symptoms of some health problems can cause feelings of dizziness or sleepiness, increasing the chances of falling.
Accidents happen and while there is not one thing you can do to magically prevent all future falls, there are a number of preventative measures that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of a fall. Some things like minimizing clutter and controlling pets are just a few of the things that you can do to ensure that you or a loved one doesn’t suffer from a harmful fall.
Health Risks of Falling
As mentioned earlier, falling is a major health risk for senior citizens and many suffer from horrible falls every year. According to the CDC, three million older people are treated in emergency rooms each year for falls. At least 300,000 older people are hospitalized every year from hip fractures, 95 percent of which are caused by falling. Similarly, at falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries.
Unfortunately, less than half of the older individuals who fall tell their doctors even though falling once doubles your chances of falling again.
There are a number of reasons that falls happen and are more likely for older individuals. For instance, seniors are generally not as strong as they once were in their younger days. Also, there can be many hazards even in your own home that can increase the risk of falling and causing serious injuries. Things like uneven steps or slippery rugs may not seem like a big deal but can be the difference between a nice afternoon and a hospital visit.
What You Can Do
Improving lighting around you or your loved one’s living area can make it a lot easier to navigate around. Being sure that light switches are in easy areas to access, including using them while laying down, can be an effective way in preventing falls.
Similarly, using nighttime lights or motion lights can be helpful when getting up in the middle of the night.
Securing loose rugs or removing them all together can be an easy way to reduce the risks of falling. Similarly, wearing clothing such as proper shoes and grip socks can be an easy way to help maintain balance.
Installing mobility assistance furniture around the house like grab bars, zero-entry tubs, and shower seats can be a easy way to ensure that you or your loved one can move around the house and perform daily tasks in a safe manner.
If you or a loved one does experience a fall, getting up can be a problem. However, incorporating the use of fall detectors and emergency alert technology can be important for helping someone after they have already experienced a fall and are having trouble standing back up.
Changing the location of items around the house and rearranging furniture layouts are a few things you can do to make it easier on yourself or a loved one who is at risk of falling. Simply moving items of high shelves and arranging belongings in a central area will help ensure that nobody will have to strain themself in order to get something that they need.
Getting rid of unnecessary clutter around the living area will help make sure that someone walking through doesn’t trip on a loose article of clothing or something else. Keeping pathways wide and clear is an easy way to prevent falls.
Making sure that a friend, family member, or caregiver is regularly checking in on you or your loved one is an easy way to ensure safety. It doesn’t always have to be an in-person visit, doing something simple like calling or texting can be enough to make sure that your loved one is doing okay.
If you or a loved one has a rowdy pet, being sure to secure the pet in a designated area can help to make sure that it doesn’t get in the way and cause you or your loved one to trip or fall. Also, putting a bell on the pet’s collar can help everyone be aware of the pet’s location when active.
One preventative measure that should be taken into consideration is exercise. Exercise is one way to train your body to remain balanced and strong throughout the day. Many exercises that senior citizens can partake in will help them keep their balance as they age.
A few balance exercises that can be incorporated into a senior’s daily routine would be heel-to-toe walks, leg raises and Tai Chi.
While beginning to exercise may be a difficult thing and you might no think you’ll be able to do it, starting slowly and working your way up is a good way to tackle new exercise routines.
Getting older comes with many health risks, falling is one of them. As we age and some things like balance and strength start to weaken, it increases the likelihood of a fall that can cause a serious health injury like a bone fracture or traumatic brain injury. There are a few preventative things that can be done to reduce the risk of falling, such as making sure walkways are cleared and improving lighting around the living area. At Landmark Senior Living, our assisted living facilities are equipped with the right tools that our residents need in order to live safely and happily as the enter the next chapter of their lives.