Every September, we observe Falls Prevention Month, an important time to reassess the safety of our homes to protect ourselves and our elderly loved ones from avoidable and easily preventable mishaps.
As your loved one’s primary caregiver, understanding and preempting potential fall risks will become a necessity for healthy aging.
A simple fall may be the precursor to health complications down the road that can impede mobility or negatively impact your loved one’s health.
Luckily, most falls are preventable and this September is the perfect time to foster a safer environment that lets your elderly loved one move with confidence and grace, enjoying their retirement years with more joy and independence.
The Origins of Falls Prevention Month
Falls Prevention Month is observed every September and was created by the National Council on Aging (NCOA) to draw attention to fall prevention awareness for seniors and caregivers.
Over the years, Falls Prevention Month has garnered participation from various healthcare organizations, senior living communities, and government agencies.
According to the CDC, one out of four seniors (aged 65 and older) falls each year. This roughly equals a senior being treated for a fall in an emergency room every 11 seconds.
Unfortunately, falls are the leading cause of fatal injuries and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among senior adults.
This September, numerous companies and senior living communities unite with the NCOA’s mission to share educational resources, host events, and advocate for policies that support fall prevention strategies.
Identifying the primary causes of falls
Falls among the elderly are unfortunately too common and can lead to severe injuries or even fatalities.
However, recognizing the primary causes of falls can empower caregivers and their families to take necessary preventative measures.
The causes of these falls can be categorized into medical conditions and environmental factors that increase fall risk.
Medical conditions that increase the risk of falls
- Vision problems: Impaired or diminished vision can make it challenging to see obstacles or uneven ground.
- Muscle weakness: As we age, a decrease in muscle strength can affect balance and mobility.
- Medications: Certain medications may have side effects such as dizziness or dehydration which increases fall risk.
- Chronic diseases: Conditions like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, or arthritis can affect coordination and strength.
- Foot problems: Issues such as arthritis, foot drop, neuropathy or improper footwear can make walking precarious.
Environmental factors that contribute to falls
- Poor lighting: Inadequate lighting can obscure obstacles, especially during the night.
- Uneven surfaces: Unstable surfaces or irregularities in flooring can be a tripping hazard.
- Clutter: Having too many objects in walking paths can create obstacles that are easy to trip over.
- Lack of handrails: Staircases without handrails or bathrooms without grab bars can be dangerous.
- Slippery floors: Wet or polished floors can significantly increase the likelihood of falls.
Improving mobility to reduce fall risk in seniors
Many falls are caused by diminished balance or inadequate muscle fortitude.
To counteract these balance and strength issues, try incorporating the following physical exercises to enhance your loved one’s stability, agility, and muscle power:
- Engaging in regular physical activities to enhance mobility and strength
- Wearing non-slip shoes and avoid loose clothing
- Regular check-ups to monitor health status
- Engaging in balance and coordination exercises
- Maintaining a nutritious diet to support bone health
- Offering courses or resources to educate on fall prevention
At Kensington Park Senior Living, we partner with Powerback Rehabilitation for all on-site rehabilitation services to help our residents regain their balance and strength to reduce fall risk.
We give our residents the ability to focus on healing for as short or long a stay as needed.
At-home modifications to prevent falls
Making small changes to your loved one’s home can create big shifts in safety.
Here are some tips to create a living space that’s both secure and comfortable for your loved one:
- Installing handrails in staircases and hallways
- Removing rugs or using rugs with non-slip backing
- Installing adequate lighting, especially in staircases and hallways
- Setting up furniture in a way that creates clear walkways
- Applying non-slip coatings to tile and wooden floors
- Installing shower seats and raised toilet seats for added safety
Recognizing the warning signs
Being aware of the warning signs of a potential fall can be a lifesaver. There are some unmistakable signs that signal an increased risk of falls.
Be aware of these warning signs to prevent fall risk:
- Unsteady walking: If you notice your loved one is having a hard time walking steadily, it might be time to assess their balance and stability.
- Frequent tripping: Regular stumbles or trips can be a glaring red flag. Take note if this happens more often.
- Difficulty rising from a seat: Struggling to stand up from sitting positions can indicate weakening muscles.
- Holding onto walls or furniture: If they are leaning on walls or furniture while moving around, it’s a sign of declining balance.
- Changes in gait or foot drop: Pay attention to any alterations in the way they walk, including dragging a foot.
- Decline in vision: If they’re having trouble seeing clearly, it could lead to missteps and falls.
- Medication side effects: Be alert to any side effects of medications they’re on, such as dizziness or disorientation.
- Fear of falling: A growing fear of falling can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Addressing this fear is crucial.
Receive physical rehabilitation on-site at Kensington Park with Powerback Rehabilitation
The Powerback Rehabilitation program at Kensington Park Senior Living offers support and recovery for all residents striving to regain their independence.
We offer personalized plans crafted by a multidisciplinary team, which includes:
- Developing personalized plans to enhance balance and prevent falls
- Physical therapy sessions to build strength and optimize mobility
- Occupational therapy to improve coordinator and facilitate daily tasks safely
- Specialized programs like Balance In Action®, a clinical initiative designed to minimize the risk of falls in various care settings
Our therapy experts focus on one simple vision for our residents—to help them live dignified and optimally independent lives.
Your path to safety and wellness starts at Kensington Park
Kensington Park Senior Living, nestled in the heart of Maryland, offers a sanctuary for seniors, providing unparalleled independent senior living, comprehensive assisted senior living, and specialized memory care services, ensuring a vibrant and nurturing community experience.
Our dedicated and professionally trained care team collaborates with the Powerback Rehabilitation program to devise individualized recovery plans, facilitating swift recoveries and maintaining optimum health levels.
At Kensington Park Senior Living, we extend Our Promise to love and care for your family as we do our own. That includes providing a safe environment for your loved ones to thrive in.
To learn more about our promise of excellence and the care we can provide for your loved one—connect with Kensington Park today.