According to the National Council on Aging, every 15 seconds older adults are seen in an emergency room for a fall-related injury. That’s approximately four incidences every minute.
Further, the Centers for Disease control says that falls—the majority of which occur at home—are the leading cause of injuries or death for those over age 65. That’s why it’s so important for seniors and their family caregivers to be vigilant about reducing their risk of falling, particularly at home.
When do fall precautions become necessary?
If either you or a loved one has experienced a fall, then there is a greater chance of falling again. Whether there is a history of falls or not, it's still important to take precautions to avoid falls and injuries.
A personalized fall risk assessment by a home health care professional can help pinpoint potential dangers of slips and falls and recommend ways to keep you or your loved one safe, depending on what needs they determine, they may also suggest in-home or personal care services.
Reevaluate daily activities when aging in place
As seniors age, they must become mindful of how they move through their daily activities. Even simple movements like getting out of bed or reaching for something on a shelf can have devastating consequences if they're not careful.
Seniors should remember these tips to prevent falls:
- Change positions slowly; sit on edge of bed, sofa, or chair for a few minutes before standing
- Place items used daily, like a phone, TV remote, or medications within easy reach
- Use assistive devices, such as canes or walkers
- Avoid climbing ladders or step stools
- Not overreach or squat low to pick up items
Use a home safety checklist
Sure, home is where the heart is. But without planning, it can become dangerous easily. Everyday items can lead to elderly falls. There are many precautions you or your loved one could take around the home to prevent falls and any resulting injuries from falls.
Consider the following precautions against falls indoors:
- Remove throw rugs
- Repair or replace worn or frayed carpet
- Rearrange furniture or clutter to allow free movement in the home
- Clear floors of papers, trash, and stored items
- Install grab bars in bathroom tub or shower
- Use a night light in the bathroom and hallways
- Ensure that a phone, call button, and medical alert pendant are close at all times
Taking these steps to prevent falls outside:
- Repair cracks in the sidewalk and driveway
- Install handrails on stairways and along front and backdoor steps
- Trim shrubbery along the pathway to the home
- Keep walkways clear of shrubbery, snow, and ice
- Install adequate lighting by doorways and along walkways
Staying active can help with fall prevention
A senior's fitness status can dramatically affect their risk of falling. Strong muscles and bones, good vision, and mental sharpness all play a role in keeping seniors from taking a tumble.
- Discuss with your (or your loved one's) physician any health conditions that can increase the risk of falling, such as heart problems that can lead to lightheadedness, or diabetes that can cause numbness in the feet
- Have medications reviewed periodically – some have side effects that can cause fatigue or dizziness
- Adopt a physical activity regimen with balance, strength training, and flexibility components
- Have eyes checked annually, or more often if there are any vision problems
- Wear properly-fitting shoes with non-skid soles; never walk in stocking feet
Many of these recommendations are simple, while others are more involved and potentially costly. If needed, you or your family members may be able to obtain help from community programs or senior organizations.
For more information on how BAYADA Home Health Care can provide care to help you reduce your risk of falling and help you maintain your independence, contact your local BAYADA office.