“I’ve fallen and I can’t get up,” is a line made famous by the TV advertisements for the Life Alert Emergency Response system. Unfortunately, it is an event that occurs to many seniors. According to the National Council on Aging, one in three older Americans fall every year, and it is these falls that cause the majority of the injuries for people who are age 65 and older. Once a fall occurs, the fear of falling causes an imbalanced gait—stooped shoulders and shuffling feet–and doubles the chance of falling again. Fortunately, there are steps that you and your loved one can take to help prevent this calamity from occurring.
There are many factors that can increase an elderly person’s susceptibility to falls. These include medications, chronic illnesses, loss of muscle tissue and fading eyesight. Take stock of your parent’s lifestyle and fitness level to determine what areas can be modified to increase their chance of living a fall-free life. This includes the following:
- Make a list of their medications, over-the-counter remedies and ask their pharmacist to look it over for potential drug interactions that may cause dizziness or loss of balance.
- Talk with their primary health care provider about their chronic illnesses and the best way to combat any that can lead to a fall. This may include pain management, assistive devices such as walkers or canes, and specific therapies such as physical or occupational.
- Enlist your parent in one of the many fall prevention programs. These include A Matter of Balance, FallsTalk, FallScape, Healthy Steps for Older Adults, The Otago Exercise Program, Stay Active and Independent for Life, Stepping On, Tai Chi for Arthritis, Tai Ji Quan, and YMCA Moving for Better Balance.
- Make a yearly appointment with an ophthalmologist for a comprehensive eye exam.
A Safe Home
Most falls occur at home. Help your loved one stay safe by making their home safe. This includes making sure the lighting is good by increasing the number of lights and type—switching to LED lights can brighten up a home considerably. Install motion sensor or nightlights. Get rid of clutter and any tripping hazards which may include moving furniture to ensure obstruction-free pathways and making sure that no wires cross regularly used paths. Remove throw rugs and other slipping hazards. Install grab bars in strategic locations such as in the shower and by the toilet. Install a raised toilet seat or handrails by the toilet. Place non-skid mats in front of sinks and in the shower. Keep frequently used items in easy to reach places.
Senior Care Provider
If your loved one requires assistance with everyday tasks, consider obtaining the services of a senior care provider. They also provide transportation, companionship and accompany your parent on social outings, making sure that your loved one remains active and engaged as they age.
If you or an aging loved one are considering senior care in Eagan, MN, and the surrounding areas, please contact the friendly staff at CareBuilders at Home Minnesota. Call today 612-260-2273.