Posted on Feb 13, 2020 in Senior Tips
According to the 2017 US Census Bureau report, the population of those aged 65 and over currently stands at about 47.8 million. The report further stated that there would be 78 million people aged 65 and older by 2035 compared to 76.4 million under the age of 18 years. Currently there are about three-and-a-half working-age adults for every retirement-age person. With an aging population comes many challenges, including incorporating fall prevention.
As the elderly population continues to grow, the risk of falls continues to rise. Each year, millions of seniors in the US are admitted to hospitals due to fall-related injuries. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about a third of seniors have a fall each year. Falls can cause severe injuries like broken bones, kidney damage, head injuries or muscle breakdown that could be fatal to seniors if they don’t get urgent medical attention.
Falls frequently happen in the bathroom because it can be quite slippery. Other falls can happen due to stumbling into a chair, ladder or other objects around the house and garden. Seniors are more vulnerable to falls because they are more frail. Once a senior has experienced a fall it can make them anxious and stressed because they are worried about falling over again. If a person is unable to get up after falling over and no one is around, this can cause long-lasting damage both physically and mentally. Learning how to prevent falls in seniors will not only help to keep them safe but will also keep them happy. Below are some tips to keep seniors safe and prevent falls.
One of the best ways to keep seniors safe from falls is by purchasing a personal alarm system. Although a personal alarm will not prevent the elderly from falling, if a fall does occur they can press a button for help. A monitoring center immediately becomes alerted and a person will contact the senior person to see what sort of help they need. The monitoring center can alert a family member to help or if it’s an emergency they can alert the ambulance to come straight away. Personal alarms are small handheld devices that can be worn around the neck or wrist so they aren’t bulky to carry around. The device allows elderly people to go about their daily business and gives them peace of mind that help is never far away. Having a personal alarm also gives seniors more independence because they don’t need someone watching them all the time and their families can rest assured they can be contacted in the unlikely event of an emergency.
There are so many things that can cause people to trip around the home that people don’t normally think about but can be extremely hazardous for elderly people, such as cords along the ground, boxes and low-hanging plants. Look around the house and make a list of things that could be removed or stored away to prevent falls. Remove clutter from corridors and walkways, make sure the house is well-lit both inside and outside, and put away books and newspapers so they aren’t lying around. Make sure anything a senior uses frequently is in a safe and easy to access place like on a low shelf or in a drawer.
Other modifications that you should make include:
People who are aged 65 and over should have their vision and hearing checked at least once every 12 months. Poor eyesight is one of the leading causes of falls in seniors, so it’s important that seniors are wearing the right prescription lenses if they wear glasses to lessen their chance of falling. If a senior has particularly bad eyesight then it’s important to take the steps above to make sure they are safe in their home.
If a senior is on medication then it should be monitored closely to see if the medicine is affecting their mobility. Incorrect dosage or forgetting to take medication could increase the risk of falling. Some medicine can cause side effects such as confusion. If the medication cannot be changed then extra precautions should be taken to prevent the senior from falling, such as having a caregiver by their side when they are walking or buying a walking stick.
If a senior does not get enough sleep they could be at higher risk of a fall. Not getting enough sleep can lead to fatigue and confusion which can cause them to be less aware of their surroundings. Getting enough sleep can also reduce stress, anxiety and make a person happier.
One of the best ways to practice fall prevention is by staying active. The more active a senior is, the lower the chance of having a fall. Encourage seniors to stay active to improve their strength, flexibility and balance. Some seniors aren’t very mobile so it’s best they consult a doctor to find out what types of exercises that they can do at home to improve strength and stability. It’s important for seniors not to overexert themselves as this could be worse than not doing any exercise at all. Recommended workouts that can help keep elderly people active include walking, yoga, dancing, and swimming.
The National Institute on Aging recommends that the elderly should wear light, flat, rubber-soled shoes because they are stable, light and less prone to skidding. It’s important that seniors don’t walk around the house with socks because they are very slippery. Shoes like high heels, flats, flip flops and sandals are not appropriate either as they can get caught on objects and can be quite slippery.
Due to an aging population in the US, more measures need to be put in place to protect seniors from falls. Remember these tips are helpful but it always depends on the person’s individual needs and health. Seniors should always speak to a doctor before starting any physical activities. If you are looking for extra assistance besides a caregiver, or want to live in a lively community where you can stay active, engage in activities and meet new friends, contact us at Landmark Senior Living. We offer assisted living, memory & respite care. Any need or assistance that you or a loved one may need can be taken care of with us at our 5 lovely facilities. Contact us today for more information.
About The Author
Bio: Karen Smith has been working for MePACS as the Head of Sales and Marketing for the last four years and has over 20 years experience in health, technology, digital and finance industries.