Tripping over something can be dangerous to all of us, but for the elderly, falls can be a devasting event. Preventing falls should be a priority for every senior, especially those still living in their own home.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that one in four older adults fall each year but less than half report the fall to their physician. One in five falls results in a serious injury such as a broken bone or head injury. Over 800,000 patients per year are hospitalized because of a fall injury, costing more than $50 billion to treat. More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by a fall.
Injuries like broken hips or traumatic brain injuries are not only painful and expensive, they are a leading cause of an elderly person not being able to remain in their home. So being aware of hazards that could lead to a fall is a vital part of being safe, and continuing to live at home.
Some tips to consider to help prevent falls:
- Talk with the senior’s physician about medications and their side effects. Do any increase a risk of lightheadedness or dizziness? Should a cane or walker be used to aid in mobility, or are other medication options possible?
- If the senior has fallen or you notice his or her increasing instability, also mention that to their physician, who may be able to suggest fall prevention strategies. Muscle strength and balance may need to be evaluated.
- Wear sensible shoes. Slippers, regular socks and some shoes do not have slip-resistance to be safe.
- Improve indoor safety. Remove items such as newspapers on the floor near the recliner; phone or electrical cords; and throw rugs. Carpet that’s stretched and rumpled can be restretched by a flooring company for a small fee (without moving furniture). Use a shower seat and install grab bars at the shower for use during entry and exit. Keep items within reach; this may mean removing items from the highest shelves or rearranging necessities to be within reach.
- Keep a light on at night. In the bathroom, use a nightlight and install a riser or grab bars on the toilet.
At FootPrints Home Care, we provide a safety audit as part of our assessment process when we visit the senior’s home. Our home caregivers who help provide at-home care continue to monitor and improve the home’s safety during our visits, whether they are there daily, weeky, or for respite care.
Most falls can be prevented. Keeping safety in mind is vital to an elderly person’s ability to live at home as long as possible. If we can help provide care for your family member, please contact FootPrints Home Care.