Every year, close to 650,000 deaths are attributed to injuries sustained in a fall.
If you are a senior or you are living with a senior, it’s important to take extra care to prevent falls at home, whether home is a house, apartment, or nursing home.
A fall may result in fractures, head injuries, and post-hospitalization care that can be expensive and time-consuming.
Some seniors experience traumatic setbacks or develop a fear of movement that may lead to social isolation and depression.
It’s important to make a senior’s home as safe as possible to allow them as much mobility as possible and keep them healthy.
Finding Environmental Risks
Go around the premises to identify potential dangers. Look at the arrangement of the furniture: Is there a low chest that may present a tripping hazard?
Make sure there are clear paths for the senior resident to move around the home easily. How about the flooring? Is it slippery? Consider using anti-slip tiles.
As people age, their senses deteriorate, so dim lighting may not be suitable in a home for a senior. Install adjustable lights so you can change the intensity as needed.
Also, make sure that toilet fixtures and handrails in the bathroom are installed at the right height, and place slip-resistant mats on the floor to improve stability.
Potential Health Hazards
Examine the health of the person in question to find and minimize factors that could lead to a fall.
For instance, some prescription medications can cause dizziness or sleepiness; if this is the case, check with the prescribing doctor to see if they can be taken at bedtime.
Dementia, high blood pressure, heart conditions, seizures, and bad vision can also increase the risk of falling and should be addressed.
And it’s important that a person with mobility issues have the right devices to help them move about safely, whether they need a cane, a walker, or a wheelchair.
Education And Interventions
Properly trained caregivers can help reduce the risk of falling.
It’s important that anyone in charge of watching over an elderly person, whether it’s a staff member at a nursing home or a relative, be able to recognize when a fall could be imminent, prevent it when they can, and know what to do after a fall happens.
It’s also a good idea to get the person involved in activities that can help improve their strength and mobility, which could lessen the chances of a fall. For instance, taking yoga, dance, or tai chi classes can improve balance and bolster lower-body strength.
Outdated Tools To Avoid
Bed and chair alarms have been used in the past to alert caregivers of when a fall happens, but these are no longer recommended: By the time the alarm is triggered, the person has already fallen.
In addition, the noise can be quite frightening, and some people may panic and injure themselves worse as they try to scurry to safety. According to some studies, alarms also contribute to immobility, a false sense of security, and stress.
Another common tool that’s no longer recommended is bed rails.
Initially installed to prevent people from falling out of their beds, bed rails can actually make the danger worse if a person tries to climb over them to get out of bed, as this will cause them to fall from a greater height and in a more awkward position.
Do You Need Assistance?
As parents age, they may encounter more challenges at home, and helping them to stay in their home safely may eventually prove to be too much for one family member to take on.
If your parent requires health care or help with showering or meals, you may need to consider taking steps to improve the situation, whether this means that they need to move in with you, hire an in-home caregiver or visiting nurse, or move to a nursing facility.
It’s best to discuss these matters with the person who needs help and try to involve them in the decision. Try to be calm and patient: Some old people are very sensitive about the issues that come with aging.
Try to see things from their perspective and consider all of the options before choosing the right one for your situation.
Creating A More Senior-Friendly Home
If an elderly parent needs to move in with you, you can make your house safer for them with some modifications.
Work with an occupational therapist to identify your parent’s needs, and hire a contractor for more complicated remodeling.
Adequate lightning is very important. Use a light meter to determine if the lighting is at the level recommended for seniors, and try to maintain a uniform light intensity throughout the house to reduce contrast.
Pay attention to the entrance of the house: Check to see that the entryway metal strips are not protruding above the floor surface, because somebody may trip over them.
If there are steps at the entrance, cover them with non-slip mats and install hand rails for support.
In the bathroom, a senior may need grab bars, a magnified mirror, a tub seat, a pill bottle magnifier, and sandals with good grip.
Healthy Living And Lifestyle Choices
According to a study by the School of Gerontology at USC, regular exercise is very beneficial for seniors. The positive effects include increased balance, increased mobility, increased flexibility, lower blood pressure, and weight maintenance.
Exercising at least three hours a week may even add up to five years to a person’s life span. Senior adults also benefit from social interaction.
Social activities can even help to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, some cancers, cardiovascular problems, osteoporosis, and some mental diseases.
Some types of classes can combine both physical activity and social interaction, making them good ideas for seniors to try.
For instance, social dancing has been shown to have a positive impact on seniors who are suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive decline, and cognitive impairment.
Tai chi helps the elderly to improve mental agility, flexibility, and balance, thereby reducing falls. And taking a yoga class can help the elderly improve their balance and overcome the fear of falling.
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