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Preventing falls in elderly people
An important part of care, preventing falls in elderly loved ones often necessitates changes in the home environment to ensure safety.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
― Benjamin Franklin
The talks about preventing common diseases like cardiac arrest, cancer, osteoporosis, or viral infections keep on reaching our ear from time-to-time but we seldom hear about preventing something as simple as falling? The irony is, every second woman is taking medications and dietary supplements to keep bones strong and avoid fractures when the safest way to prevent fractured and weakened bones is to prevent falling. Falls are not something you can ignore Just like that, for they can cause fractures of the spine, hips, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis, upper arm, and hands, etc. Even if no bones break, falls can still take a huge toll on the quality of one’s life
According to WHO:
- Falls are the leading cause of accidental, hospital admissions for trauma and, unintentional injury-related death (CDC) in elderly people.
- The likelihood of deaths from falls is the greatest in people older than 65 years of age.
- An estimated 64600 people die from falls worldwide. 80% of which belong to developing countries.
- 37.3 million falls that are life-threatening and require medical attention annually.
- Roughly 28-35% of the elderly above 65 and over fall annually expanding to 32-42% for those more than 70 years old.
- As indicated by a report, in the U.S, around 27.5% of elderly people ≥65 years were reported to fall once a year in 2018 and 10.2% reported a fall-related injury.
These stats sure are disappointing. But since there is a silver lining to every cloud, the good news is that these falls can be prevented by focusing on resources for the prevention of falls in elderly people and related injuries.
How to Prevent Falls In Elderly People
There are steps you can take to prevent falls in your loved ones from potentially catastrophic consequences and give them a better quality of life as they age. Falls can happen anytime, anywhere, and under any circumstances. We cannot completely eradicate the risk of falling but at least we can minimize the risks by using some common sense and a bit of planning.
Take these simple tips for Preventing fall in elderly people
Declutter you home
Start by decluttering your home. Ask a friend of a family member to lend you a helping hand in clearing your walkways of anything you and your loved ones are at risk of tripping over. Take a solid look around your living room, kitchen, dining area, bedrooms, bathrooms, hallways, and stairways and you will find plenty of things that can be hazardous for kids and elderly people.
- Phone cords, electric wires, pet bowls, and everything that can trouble should be moved out of the way.
- Move coffee tables, magazine racks, plant racks away from the high-traffic areas.
- Use double-faced tape to secure rugs and carpets in their place or consider replacing them with nonslip ones.
- Keep clothing, dishes, food, and other necessities within everyone’s reach.
- Wipe water or spilled liquids stay on the floor right away.
Light up your place!
Elderly people lose their focusing ability with age, hence need more light to see things properly. You need to light your home bright enough so that your loved ones can see and don’t trip over things in the dark. Also:
- Install switches within their reach so they can turn them on as they walk through a place.
- Make night lights a must in your bedrooms, bathrooms, and hallways.
- Place lamps on each bedside for their middle-of-the-night needs.
- Consider replacing traditional on/off switches with glow-in-the-dark or illuminated ones.
- Give them a pocket flashlight that they can use in case of power outages.
Provide elderly people with assistive devices:
Elderly people are at a greater risk of falling due to many reasons. Doctors recommend providing them with devices that can assist them while walking such as using a cane or walker might help them maintain a steady walk. Apart from using a cane, some other assistive devices are:
- Make sure there is always something they can grip as they walk for example:
- handrails for both sides of stairways
- non-skid treads for bare-wood steps
- a raised toilet seat or the one that comes with an armrest
- Bath seats to sit while showering
- non-skid, self-adhesive bathmats protect them from slipping
- grab bars or handrails installed on sides of the toilet, bathtubs, and showers for grip
- a hand-held shower nozzle for bathing while sitting down
or you can ask for a referral to an occupational therapist from your doctor who can educate you about fall-prevention strategies. The fall-prevention solutions are easy-to-install and affordable. You can install some yourself and for some, you may require professional help.
Keep a close eye at their current medical condition
Keeping a close eye at your loved ones’ ongoing medical condition is a part of the fall-prevention plan. You need to sit and discuss with your loved ones to see if they are concerned about falling. Find out if they are experiencing difficulties keeping up their health. Are they taking their medications on time – or are they experiencing any side-effects? Are they finding it hard to do their daily chores?
If any of these questions are answered in a yes, discuss it with their health care provider and encourage them to open up about their concerns and so they can get the right help.
Balance and gait:
Also, notice if they hold onto walls, furniture, or something else to stand up and walk, or if they find it difficult to stand up from a chair. If so, it is time to see a physical therapist who will assist them improve their balance, strength, and gait through exercise.
As we age, so do our eyes. Usually, clouding of the lens allows less light to reach the retina, making contrasting edges, tripping hazards, and obstacles harder to see. If your loved ones wear glasses, make sure they have an accurate prescription and use the right glasses as suggested by the doctor. Tint-changing lense can pose a serious risk when going from bright to dark so they must be avoided. Bifocals can also be hazardous on stairs, so keep an eye on that as well. For those with low-vision problems, set an appointment with a low-vision specialist asap.
Keep a close check on their medications. Some prescriptions and over-the-counter medications can cause dizziness, dehydration. Also, watch for reactions with each other that can lead to a fall. Additionally, discuss if they are having a hard time taking their medicine in time or experiencing any effects, inspire them to discuss everything with their doctor and pharmacist. Get their medications reviewed each time they are given a new prescription. Also, beware of non-prescription as they might contain sleep aids as they can lead to balance issues and dizziness. If they are facing sleeping problems, discuss with their doctor to prescribe sleep alternatives and not the medicines.
THE BOTTOM LINE,
These fall-prevention strategies might be basic but they can prevent falling in elderly people to a considerable rate as they will feel confident while walking around. Additionally, ask your doctor for a referral to an occupational therapist for more changes.