Whether it’s due to the icy conditions outside, a cluttered home, or simply a result of old age, falls need to be avoided at all costs. As many as 30 percent of the elderly people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries, including hip fractures, deep bruising and head traumas. And, even for those who are not seriously hurt, a fall can cause emotional trauma by forcing them to limit their activities and impact their independence.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of three older adults fall each year. Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries, sending millions of elderly people to emergency rooms and hospitals. Don’t let falls happen to you and your loved ones. Be observant and vigilant of your surroundings.
Older adults can reduce their chances of falling by doing the following:
- Go over your medication side effects. This would include discussing with a physician or pharmacist the prescription and over-the-counter medications and supplements and reviewing the side effects and interactions that may increase your risk of falling.
- Have your eyes checked regularly. This should be done at least once a year, with eyeglasses updated to maximize their vision.
- Discuss with your doctor preventive things you can do. This may involve going over any history you have of falling and the reasons for it, including dizziness, shortness of breath, light-headedness, or joint pain. It may also include a discussion of specific things that can be done in the home to prevent falls – such as adding hand rails for the stairways, grab bars for the shower, a toilet seat with armrests, or extra lighting in certain areas of the home.
- Be physically active. Physical activity at any age can go a long way towards preventing falls. This includes walking, water workouts, tai chi, and weight bearing exercises. These exercises can help in improving strength, balance, coordination and flexibility.
- Remove hazards in the home. To make the home safe, remove boxes, newspapers, electrical cords and phone cords from walkways; secure loose rugs with double-faced tape, tracks or slip resistant backing (or remove the rugs altogether); repair any loose wooden floor boards; apply non-skid floor wax; and use non-slip mats in the bathroom and shower.
- Wear sensible shoes. This includes wearing properly-fitting shoes with non-skid soles, avoiding high heels, tying shoe laces, replacing slippers that are too loose, and never walking in stocking feet.
- Use common sense. This meansstaying home rather than venturing outside when there are snowy or icy conditions.
Should you fall, it’s important not to panic. Remember to stay calm and move slowly to make sure nothing is injured. You need to assess the situation and determine if you are hurt. Slide or crawl along the floor to the nearest couch or chair and try to get up. If you can’t, call for help. If you are alone, slowly crawl to the telephone and call 911 or relatives. If you can’t reach a phone, make yourself comfortable and take deep breaths and relax. Don’t feel rushed and take your time to move towards the phone.
Have your neighbors and family take time to check up on you day to day and make sure you have a plan developed in case of emergencies.
Angels Senior Home Solutions is a based-in-faith company that provides in-home healthcare and personal care services for seniors. Visit our website here.