Falls are the number one cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries among elder Americans, according to the National Council on Aging. Unfortunately, 25 percent of Americans over the age of 65 fall every year, and falls account for more than 800,000 hospitalizations and 27,000 deaths per year.
Fortunately, falls are preventable. Through simple life changes, you can reduce fall risk for yourself or your aging loved ones. See the following list for ideas to improve safety and comfort for your family.
- Exercise. Many falls result from a lack of balance and stability. While it’s best to start exercising at a young age and continue through life, it’s not too late to start now. Research has shown that balance training exercises reduce the risk of falls, according to Harvard Health Publications. It’s important to maintain reaction time, coordination, muscles, bone mass and brain function.
- Proper footwear. Walking barefoot or in socks or with improper shoes has been shown to increase falls among seniors, according to the Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development. Seniors should wear proper footwear both indoors and outdoors. Proper footwear should have low heels and slip- resistant soles. Ill-fitting footwear can also cause problems, so be sure that shoes fit comfortably and that the foot does not slip around inside them.
- Medication check. Some medications can cause dizziness or disorientation. Ensure that your loved one is taking the correct medications and correct dosage. If the meds and dosage are both correct but still causing problems, you might consider finding alternate medications, reducing dosage, or taking the medicines at night when navigating the house or neighborhood is not necessary. Consult a medical professional before changing medications or dosages.
- Updated eyewear. Vision often gets worse with age, which can make it more difficult to spot obstacles or clutter on the floor, according to the National Council on Aging. Be sure to visit the optometrist yearly to promote eye health and update eyeglasses when necessary.
- Cleared clutter. While anyone can appreciate a clean, clutter-free house, this is especially true for seniors. They will have a more difficult time seeing and/or avoiding objects left on the floor or in the way. Even dust or crumbs on the floor can be a slipping hazard. If your loved one is unable to keep up with household chores, lend a hand. If you don’t have time or do not live closeby, it’s worth it to invest in in-home help for your loved one.
Preventing a fall is much easier than recovering from one. With exercise, proper footwear, the right kind or dosage of medication, updated eyewear and a clear living area, you can greatly reduce your loved one’s risk of falling. Be sure to consult a physician or medical professional for suggestions specific to your loved one’s needs.
Diversified Nurse Consultants offers Holistic Health Assessments to determine specific needs of aging individuals and also conducts home screenings to ensure your loved one’s house is safe. To learn more about these services, click here or give us a call.