Preventing the Risk of Falls

One in three elderly people will fall every year. The older you or your loved one get, the more falling becomes a main concern around the house, and it can be difficult to find ways to completely eliminate the risk. While to some people it may seem unlikely that a simple fall can really do much damage, according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries in the elderly.

Why Are Falls So Dangerous?

There are a number of injuries and conditions that can result from a fall. Often times, the injuries are not something that will go away the way they might for younger people. Falls can result in hip fractures, broken bones, and head injuries, all of which can have long-term and even fatal effects on an individual.

90% of hip fractures are a result of falling, and only 25% of hip fracture patients make a full recovery from the injury. Not only that but falls often lead to an increased fear of falling. This results in a lessened desire to move around the house, which leads to decrease in independence and overall health and more often than not, lessens the time before they will move to a nursing home.

What Causes Falls?

You may think that having a clean house eliminates the risk of falling in itself, but there are many other factors that contribute to an individual’s likelihood of falling in their home. On top of home hazards, slippery floors or surfaces are a big contributor, as well as something as natural as the effects of old age.

The older you get, the more you start to lose your visual and auditory function, both of which contribute to your ability to avoid hazards around the house. Age also leads to an inevitable decrease of balance that might ordinarily help one to avoid a fall.

But aside from the physical, there are many medical reasons that may lead to a fall, including some that aren’t obvious. For starters, the side effects of certain medications can influence your body in a way that makes you more susceptible to falling. Certain neurological conditions, as well as Parkinson’s, UTIs, an irregular heartbeat, and a number of other conditions can also increase one’s risk of falling.

Preventing a Fall

  • Clean up. It may seem like a simple task, but it is easy to forget you left something out or to put something away. Not only that, but it is not uncommon that people will keep certain objects or clutter around in places that may have seemed out of the way or easily avoidable before, but are now hazardous. For example, stacks of newspapers or magazines in walkways or on the stairs may now be more of a risk than they were five years ago. Always be on the lookout for something that could be in the way.
  • Watch the surfaces. Make sure you are aware of any slippery floors in your house or a carpet or rug that gets folded up easily. Either of these can serve as tripping hazards. It may be time to remove that rug or get some no-slip mats to cover up slippery floors.
  • Install railings or handrails. Many people find it helpful to have more railings or handles around the house in the event that they start to fall, or even just to hold onto to feel more secure. It is said that handles in the bathrooms around the toilet or the bath is very useful and helps to remove a fear of falling.
  • Keep it light. Good lighting is essential to preventing falls because the first step to not tripping, is being able to see what might trip you. Light the rooms in the house well and always keep up with dying light bulbs or faulty lamps.
  • Wear shoes or tight-fitting slippers. Wearing shoes around the house instead of socks will help to limit the risk of slipping when you’re walking around. On top of that, wearing tight-fitting slippers instead of looser ones can help you from tripping over them and make you feel more secure on your feet.
  • Avoid wearing clothes that are too big. Clothes that are too big can both interfere with your ability to see the ground and cause you to trip if they get caught under your feet. Wear clothes that fit you well and get them hemmed or fitted if they don’t. 
  • Discuss physical or health conditions. You may want to avoid thinking about them, but talking about your limitations or any potential limitations is essential to preventing a fall. Talk to a loved one or even a doctor about your problems. If you wear glasses, make sure that your prescription is accurate and up-to-date, and if you have any mobility issues, make sure that you discuss them and are aware of them when you’re moving around. Even talking about certain medical conditions can be helpful, and a doctor may have some suggestions for how you can accommodate them.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle. It may seem unrelated, but you’d be surprised by just how much of an affect a healthy lifestyle can have on your life. Make sure that you are watching your diet and getting all of the vitamins and nutrients you need, and be sure to drink a lot of fluids during the day. Getting exercise is also one of the best ways to prevent a fall because it will both keep you healthy and prevent your muscles from getting stiff or weak.

Let Us Help

If you have questions regarding these or other concerns about assisted living communities in the Aurum Network, contact us at (978) 282-9551 or use our facility locator tool.

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