The risk of slipping on a damp floor or tripping on a rug increases as people age. Thousands of seniors, both men, and women, endure fractures because of falls. Unfortunately, many of them face a lifetime of disability.
One incident is enough to cause a chain reaction of more severe problems such as injury, disability, or frequent hospitalizations. In general, people over 65 years face a greater risk of falling due to age-related problems.
This situation’s gravity can be analyzed from the fact that 33% of seniors fall every year as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Falls also happen to be the leading cause of severe brain injuries, cuts, and fractures.
Therefore, this blog post addresses the risk factors and fall prevention in the elderly in depth. Let us understand the risk factors first.
Leading Causes Behind Falls
Research suggests that greater awareness reduces the chances of falls in the elderly, which is why we have listed the top five environmental, medical, and physical causes behind falls in seniors:
1. Impaired Vision
Conditions such as cataracts and glaucoma make it very difficult for seniors to see the obstacles clearly. These conditions can impair acuity, peripheral vision, and depth perception. Apart from that, other chronic diseases such as diabetes can cause visual impairment.
For this reason, seniors need to get an annual eye exam and keep their prescriptions up-to-date.
2. Balance and Gait
With progressing age, seniors tend to lose balance due to weak muscles and bones. Coordination and flexibility also become a problem, which is why ignoring them could lead to dangerous falls.
However, in an attempt to be over-cautious, many seniors become inactive. This sedentary lifestyle could also lead to all sorts of problems later. Instead, they should focus on improving mobility and building muscle strength.
3. Chronic Conditions
Over 80% of seniors in the US suffer from at least one chronic disease. Conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease can increase the risk of falling. The medications, mobility issues, and pain associated with these conditions play a considerable part.
Certain medications such as muscle relaxants, diuretics, heart medicine, sleeping pills, and blood pressure medication can cause confusion, dizziness, or drowsiness.
4. Household Hazards
Lack of handrails, clutter, and poor lighting can contribute to the risk of taking a tumble or tripping. For this reason, seniors must use handrails while climbing the stairs and ensure that the pathway is always clear of obstacles.
This brings us to the fall prevention interventions:
Steps for Fall Prevention in the Elderly
In this section, we will answer the most critical question – how to prevent elderly falls?
1. Exercise Regularly
Seniors must include fall prevention exercises in their regimen. Such exercises improve muscle strength as well as enhance the flexibility of ligaments, tendons, and joints.
Mild weight-bearing activities can slow the progression of bone loss, thereby reducing the probability of falls.
2. Fall-Proof Your Home
This is the part where you remove home hazards. Make sure that the floors in porches, bathrooms, and kitchen have nonslip mats. Get yourself some comfortable, nonslip socks to wear at home.
Besides, your clothing should be appropriately hemmed; loose clothing can cause you to stumble on the ground. Install elderly fall prevention devices such as handrails in stairways and grab bars in bathtubs and toilets.
If necessary, ask a family member for help if you have to climb the stairs or need to visit the loo.
3. Talk to Your Care Team
Never hesitate to consult your care team. They can enlighten you on the potential side effects of your medication and exercises you can do. The care team can also analyze the safety of your home to check for hazards and remove them.
4. Clean Up Clutter
Keeping your home clutter-free is the easiest thing you can do to prevent falls. Getting rid of old magazines, newspapers, or anything that’s lying on the staircases or in the hallways is necessary.
Apart from that, these particularly dangerous areas must always be well lit. You can install brighter lights in the bathroom and bedrooms for better guidance.
This fall prevention in the elderly checklist could literally prove to be a lifesaver for you or your family member.