Senior citizens are prone to multiple health issues as they progressively age. Aging comes with its own risks and issues. One of these risks is falls in elderly people. Falling down in aged people results in injury and fractures and those take considerably long healing time. A lot of care at home is necessary if they severely hurt themselves which can result in having to perform surgery and even cause prolonged hospital stays. At older age, surgery has its own risks associated with it which can have side effects and risk of infections. There are some tips that individuals can take for fall prevention if they have senior family members.
Health Conditions Associated With Causing Falls
There are some health conditions that can contribute to making an elderly more prone to falling and fractures. These can include:
- Functional Limitations
- Fear of Falling
- Multiple Medications
Arthritis: Arthritis is a painful condition that causes inflammation in the joints. People suffering from arthritis are at a high risk of falling and injuring themselves because they have reduced muscular strength. They have reduced balance while standing which increases the risk of falling down. It becomes important to have live-in care by hiring professional in-home caregivers for such elderly loved ones.
Obesity: Obesity has been associated with falls in 60 and older aged individuals. A study finds that in the United States, more than 33% of adults aged 65 and older fall annually, which resulted in nearly 16,000 deaths in 2005. Fall prevention through home safety and treating obesity by regular core exercise and leg strengthening exercises may play a role in preventing falls in older age.
Functional Limitations: Senior citizens have limited mobility due to a number of factors. Such elderly family members need additional senior care at home in getting help with tasks. Often, such seniors can fall and not get back up which is a leading cause of death in the elderly as they are unable to call for help. Live-in care is necessary to get the proper care at home to avoid such tragedies from taking place.
Fear of Falling: At an advanced age and lack of mobility, senior loved ones develop a fear of falling and breaking their bones. They develop reduced activity levels which actually has a negative impact on cognitive skills, and contribute to increasing the risk of falling down and getting fractures.
Multiple Medications: Seniors develop a number of illnesses that contribute to them taking multiple medications to manage their health problems. These drugs may contain sedatives which can result in the elderly loved one to have dizziness and drowsiness symptoms. The hazy minded senior citizen is prone to falling down and breaking a hip or bone.
Hypertension: Hypertensive seniors can get lightheaded due to bad eating habits such as salty foods or fatty foods. Which can increase the blood pressure and make them more vulnerable to falling and causing a life threatening injury. Senior care is extremely important and adding home safety features can reduce the risk of serious falls and bone fractures.
Diabetes: Diabetics have a variety of complications such as nerve damage and kidney function breakdown. The nerve damage can also lead to partial blindness in the eyes due to optic nerve getting damaged due to the diabetes. Peripheral nerve damage can cause muscular weakness and numbness in the body which can exceedingly increase the chances of falling down and the elderly person injuring themselves.
Fall Preventions Tips
The best way to keep our elderly loved ones safe in their own homes against injuries and falls is to follow some very simple fall prevention tips. According to statistics presented by the Public Health Agency of Canada, “In Canada, 20-30% of seniors experience at least one fall each year and, of those seniors who experience a fall, close to 20% die within one year of the fall.” These tips are a good way to reduce the chances of saving any senior against fractures or worse. Double up these tips with an in-home caregiver to maximize senior care.
Home safety is of utmost importance when it comes to seniors. They spend most of their day in their homes. Even with familiar surroundings, the elderly are still at risk of falling because they can fall any time any place. Some small changes around the house and with line-in care at home can benefit the senior.
- Put away and get rid of clutter in the house. Get rid of any extra and unimportant items to open up as much free space as possible so that there are no chances of tripping.
- Keep cords and any wires properly tacked to the sides such as cords to lamps, TV cords, appliances wires etc. Replace a wired telephone with a wireless device so cords are reduced around the house.
- Remove rugs and check for flooring imperfections around the house. Sometimes, rugs are sentimental items so in that case make sure that they are tacked firmly to the floor. Remove, glue or attach non-slip backings to any runners, table clothes or any other such decorative item that can increase the chances of falling for seniors.
- Homes usually have stairs lined with carpeting. Make sure that the carpet has been firmly attached to the staircase otherwise there is a huge risk of falling down the stairs which can cause multiple fractures and other severe injuries.
A regular exercise regime can be beneficial for the elderly to build up muscle strength. Muscle strength keeps them physically fit. The joints, ligaments and tendons stay flexible. A very mild form for weight bearing exercise can potentially keep the bones safe from osteoporosis. Physical activity can also help with hand and eye coordination which can help with balance and hence reducing falls and fractures. A senior can talk to their healthcare provider to find a regime that suits their needs. A live-in caregiver can make sure that the loved one is following the exercise regularly.
It is important for the senior citizens to keep up with regular visits to their primary physician. Regular doctor visits can help by reducing medication if it presents side effects such as dizziness or balance issues. In case of new symptoms or new pains, the doctor can adjust the medications accordingly. It also gives a chance for the elderly to raise any concerns related to their health and medication. With an in-home caregiver, the caregiver can go with the elderly to their doctors’ appointments and give their comments on any changes to the activities of the elderly. This can help the physician make relevant tests and ask relevant questions for a diagnosis.
Medical examination can help with testing the seniors’ eyesight and changing the glasses in case of any change with the sight. Hearing aids can be fitted if the senior hearing capabilities are tested by the physician. The caregiver attending the appointment can ask for these tests if they feel that the senior in their care is experiencing hearing loss.
Elderly have limited mobility and reduced muscle strength. Walking isn’t easier and doubled with uncomfortable footwear makes it all the more worse. High heels, loose slippers, slick soled shoes can increase the chances of falls. A fall prevention method includes getting rid of such foot wear and opting for tightly fit slippers, flat shoes and swiping out soles with non-skid soles for better grip. A live-in caregiver can do all these changes for the seniors in their care without the elderly having to take a trip to the shops for new shoes.
Changing shoes are not the only way to prevent falls when walking on flat surfaces. There comes a time when a senior requires additional walking aid regularly. Walking stands and rollators are recommended by the doctors which can be fitted to the loved ones height. An in-home caregiver can make sure that the walker wheels are well oiled and secure to avoid any accidents and keep the senior safe.
The diet of an elderly can affect their overall health. Eating a balanced meal throughout the day can help them maintain their health and avoid additional weakness. Nutritious food can provide higher energy levels and keep the seniors active throughout the day. With doctor recommendations, important vitamins such as calcium and vitamin D can be supplemented for stronger better bone density. A live-in care professional can prepare meals and snacks that are nutritious and follow recipes that are easily digestible for older adults.
Elderly who drink need to take additional care while walking. They need to limit the amount that they consume to avoid any negative effects on their health. They should not walk soon after drinking as their balance and vision can be impaired which can cause a nasty fall.
An elderly needs proper care and rest to keep rejuvenated and alert. They can do this if they are getting proper sleep at night and resting well. A good night’s sleep can ensure that they are not tired, lethargic and dizzy from a lack of sleep. Lack of sleep can cause issues such as confusion and haziness which can result in falls and bone fractures.
According to statistics by the Public Health Agency of Canada 20% of elderly who fall die within a year. The hope is that with in-home caregivers these seven tips can be incorporated to ensure that such injuries are reduced and deaths of a loved one by falls can be significantly reduced in the coming years.