Falls in the elderly are a very common occurrence. It is estimated that approximately 250,000 older Americans are hospitalized every year for hip fractures alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most of these are due to falls. Then there are the wrists, arms, and ankles that get broken along the way as well.
So, how do you make yourself immune to falls? There is no 100% safety barrier to wrap yourself in, but there are many ways to reduce your risk of taking a fall, whether you are at home, outdoors, at work or away.
Here are ways to eliminate falls:
Keep floors clear.
Every home has small items that can be cleared away. Things such as electrical cords, throw rugs, pet toys, even small furniture should be removed. When something spills, wipe it up immediately. For stairs, use adhesive strips on the rungs and nonskid mats in the bath or shower. Make sure every staircase has sturdy hand rails.
Invest in good shoes.
Once it was fashionable to wear those spiky heels, but nowadays it’s safer to wear sturdy shoes with memory foam and grip. Your feet will thank you for it.
Watch for ice and snow.
Venturing out after a storm in winter can be a lesson in ‘how to break a bone in one easy step’. Have someone spread salt or sand on any surface you walk on. Always wear boots with good traction. Stay off icy surfaces altogether.
Open blinds and curtains.
Let the natural light of day shine into your house or workspace. You may want to invest in better windows too, which open inward for you to clean more easily.
Bathrooms can be made safer.
Toilets can be outfitted with safety frames and rails which make it easier to sit or stand. Showers and bathtubs should all have grab-bars for added support. Never step into a wet shower. Always use slip-resistant flooring in the bathroom and shower areas.
Have your eyes evaluated.
Too often, seniors will wear glasses that are outdated for their eye strength. Schedule a visual exam and get those new glasses. They will make all the difference for you.
Do strength training.
While it’s great to get out there and walk, it’s also important to have strong bones and flexible joints to prevent future injuries. Exercise is crucial for senior bone strength, especially in women. Simple weight-bearing exercises will keep your skeleton strong and you feeling good.
Become more balanced.
Literally. With gentle yoga exercises, you will begin to promote better balance while on your feet. Standing suddenly and trying to walk often results in dizziness or loss of balance. Tai Chi and Pilates focus on strengthening your body’s entire inner core.
Eat healthy food.
It’s too easy to reach for the ice cream or potato chips while watching TV. Eating the right foods, however, will not only promote better health but also lower cholesterol, help strengthen bones, and give you more of the right kinds of energy you are seeking. People who don’t eat well are more susceptible to falling.
Learn about osteoporosis.
This bone-depleting disease is a major source of falls and fractures. Introduce more calcium into your diet through yogurt or Vitamin D supplements.
You may want to speak with your doctor about scheduling a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scan. The DEXA scan can detect early bone loss. Don’t wait until you’ve broken an ankle to think about getting a bone scan.
Ask about a risk assessment.
For elderly family members, it’s a good idea to have a health professional assess their home for overall safety. Aging Life Care Experts, or Elder Care Managers, have social worker and nursing backgrounds and are especially trained to evaluate the presence of confusing medications, hazards, or signs of disorientation in the person they are seeing.
Think about a medical alert system.
Most people are happiest in their own homes. As they age, there is the increased risk of falls and injuries.
Now there is help. Medical alert systems can be worn or affixed to showers or beds and will alert emergency personnel when someone needs their help. Never again have the feeling that you are all alone. This also provides peace of mind to family members who aren’t with you at the moment and you want to stay connected with.
Have all medications evaluated.
Certain over-the-counter meds may counteract prescription drugs, causing drowsiness or dizziness. Older folks usually take a lot of medications, so each one should be evaluated, and some can be eliminated if no longer needed.
While falls are common and can lead to serious injury, there are many things that can be done to prevent the falls themselves, or to make the results less serious. Don’t wait until a fall to take action. Put these ideas into practice for a safer environment for your loved ones. Speak to an Aging Life Care Expert information on how to better prepare yourself for you or your family members’ golden years.
For more helpful tips or information contact our Senior Care Management company today!