Falls are the leading cause of injury in older adults and often result in hip fractures, brain injury, immobility, and even early death. Here are some steps you can take to protect your loved ones and lower their risk of falling.
Schedule Annual Doctor Check-ups
Schedule annual visits with Primary Care Physicians and other specialists. If there are underlying conditions, more frequent visits may be recommended.
Ensure that all medication and supplements are up to date. Some medications can cause drowsiness and/or dizziness which can lead to falls. Other medications and supplements may be added to help bone, muscle, and nerve health – which can help prevent falls.
Remove Clutter and Tripping Hazards
Scatter rugs can create huge tripping and fall hazards, as they curl up at the ends and can slide across slippery wooden or tiled flooring. It is best to remove all rugs – but, if that is not possible, use strong adhesive tape to secure the rug to the floor.
- Make sure paths are clear of furniture; it’s easy to bump into these items, causing bruising - or worse, a fall.
- Avoid using extension cords. Electrical wiring can create unnecessary tripping risks. Make sure all electrical cords are tied together and neatly tucked away.
Wear Appropriate Footwear
Wear supportive, rubber soled shoes; leave those open backed “flip flops” for the grandkids!
Avoid wearing socks without shoes; it’s easy to slide across the wood or tiled floors in socks, so be sure to wear shoes at all times.
Add Adequate Lighting
- Use night lights to illuminate hallways, stairs, and anywhere else in the house where your loved one may walk at night.
Install Grab Bars, Railings and a Chair Lift
Most falls take place in the bathroom. So, make sure to have grab bars at an appropriate height in the bathroom, inside and outside of the tub/shower, near the toilet, as well as throughout the house, including near the bed, and anywhere else where a fall is just a slip away.
Stairs present another risk for falls. Be sure to install sturdy stair railings or a chair lift along the stairwell. Remind your elderly parents to take time going up and down the stairs; there is no need to rush.
Advise your parents not to carry laundry or a food tray while going up or down stairs, as it can knock them off balance.
Encourage Your Parent or Loved One to Stay Active
- Staying physically active is important: inactivity increases weakness and a chance for falling. This means it’s time to start practicing those balance and stability exercises (with your doctor’s approval).
- If your loved one wants to take a walk or get some outdoor exercise, but doesn't feel strong enough, consider hiring a companion to help ensure a safe walk.
Don’t Rush to Answer the Phone or Door Bell
- There is no need to rush to grab the phone or answer the door. Remind your elder parents to take their time; it’s not worth tripping – nothing is more important than your parents’ safety.
Wear an Emergency Response Pendant
These pendants can save lives - especially, if your loved one falls and cannot get to a phone. Help is just one click away.
That said, nothing is perfect, so have a backup plan; keep a cell phone nearby, as well.
According to National Council on Aging (NCOA), falls, with or without injury, carry a heavy quality of life impact. A growing number of older adults fear falling and, as a result, limit their activities and social engagements. These tips can help reduce further physical decline, depression, social isolation, and feelings of helplessness.
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