Falls are one the most common and difficult injuries that seniors face. Luckily, they are easy to prevent if you follow the right steps.
Each year, about 36 million falls are reported among seniors, with three million older adults being treated in emergency rooms for fall injuries.
Falling is most often caused by tripping hazards inside a home or from worsening mobility or eyesight.
As September rolls in, Falls Prevention Awareness Month begins to raise awareness and help seniors across America prevent unnecessary falls.
In this article, we will offer tips to help your loved one avoid fractures and falls so they can continue to age gracefully without further risk of injury.
What is the National Falls Prevention Awareness Month?
Every September, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) hosts Falls Prevention Awareness Week, which raises awareness of fall risks for seniors.
Falls Prevention Awareness Week aims to educate millions of older seniors and their caregivers across the country, at home and in assisted living communities to take proper steps to prevent fall risk.
Last year, the 14th Annual Falls Prevention Awareness Week reached around 314 million people, including caregivers, health care providers, and seniors living in their homes to help them prevent falls.
Why is fall prevention important for seniors?
Did you know that falls are the most common cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among older adults?
Once a senior has experienced a serious fall, the risk of falling again doubles, making fall prevention one of the most important measures you can take to help your aging loved one.
In addition to serious injuries, falls can also lead to hospital visits, expensive medical bills, and extended stays in rehabilitation centers.
Around 1 in 5 falls causes serious injuries like broken bones or head trauma, such as traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
Falls are also the leading cause of hip fractures among the elderly.
Medical causes that increase fall risk for elderly adults
As your loved one ages, changes in their body make them more at risk of falling, such as:
- Changes in multiple medications causing side effects
- Vision and hearing loss
- Loss of mobility and leg strength
- Foot drop caused by foot paralysis or muscle weakness
- Changes in blood pressure causing fainting or light-headedness, especially after going from a seated position to walking
- Balance problems
If your loved one is experiencing dizziness after taking a new medication, or experiences extreme shifts in blood pressure after getting up, consult their doctor to assess their fall risk and change medications if possible.
Fall prevention at home: Common hazards
Besides changes in your loved one’s health and mobility, there are numerous risk factors inside their home that can contribute to an increased risk of falling.
In general, you will want to help your loved one avoid tripping and remove all hazards, add additional lighting, and use assistive devices, such as handrails, throughout their home.
Consider hazardous conditions while fall proofing the home:
- Declutter all hallways and walkways
- Add extra lighting throughout the home, including night lights and motion sensor activated lighting
- Remove all rugs and other hazards, such as electrical cords and boxes
- Get non-slip mats anywhere there may be wet surfaces
- Add a non-slip rubber mat to the shower, or a shower chair
- Install grab bars in the bathroom and in bedroom
- Add a raised toilet seat
- Install handrails on the stairs and near front door steps
- Add anti-slip stair treads
- Move important items within easy reach
At Kensington Park, these are all things that are designed into the community.
What are the best strategies to prevent falls?
Helping your loved one tidy up their home and take control of their health are the greatest ways you can prevent falls.
After you’ve helped declutter your loved one’s home and added extra safety features, you can help them work to stay healthy to improve strength and balance.
Limited mobility is a precursor to increased fall risk. Help your loved one stay physically active to keep their joints and tendons flexible.
If they are able to, enroll them in a physical rehabilitation program that will optimize their mobility and strength. At Kensington Park, we partner with Powerback Rehabilitation to offer on-site physical, occupational, and speech therapy.
Worsening eyesight is another cause for tripping and falling inside the home, so take your loved one to an eye doctor. They may need eyeglasses or an updated prescription to help avoid falls.
Look at what kinds of shoes your loved one is wearing in their home. Are they wearing slippers, flip-flops, or just wearing socks?
Buy them a couple of pairs of non-slip orthopedic shoes. They will offer more support on their feet and keep them more securely grounded to their floor.
Lastly, keep an eye on what foods and drinks your loved one is consuming. Obviously, excess alcohol can cause dizziness, but a lack of nutrition can also lead to dizziness and confusion, which can lead to more falls.
Make sure they are getting enough essential vitamins and minerals and eating frequently enough to prevent low blood sugar crashes that may increase fall risk.
Join Kensington Park Senior Living—a community trained in fall prevention
Our enhanced health care program goes beyond what many traditional assisted living communities can offer, allowing your loved one to truly age in place.
We offer a broader continuum of care that allows our residents to stay with us, even if their health care needs change.
In addition, our superior dining program prepares healthy meals prepared by our professionally trained head chef.
At Kensington Park, we extend Our Promise to love and take care of your loved one as we do our own.
Reach out to a Kensington Park staff member now to learn more about our community.