There’s a familiar saying, “prevention is better than cure.” When thinking about falls, especially for seniors, that’s true. Falls may seem like an inevitable part of ageing, but there are proactive measures that you can take, such as a senior fall prevention plan, to minimize the risks of a senior falling at home and while they’re out.
There are obvious reasons for wanting to take precautions from falling. Falls can be embarrassing and painful. Right now, a fall that causes an injury or unexpected hospital stay carries more risks than it used to because of COVID-19.
Planning ahead to protect your senior loved one as icy weather approaches is a great way to cut down the chances of an emergency or unplanned hospital visit.
Short-Term Fall Prevention Goals
Have Proper Footwear
Make sure your senior loved one is wearing the right shoes. Wearing shoes that fit well is one of the easiest areas to address in your senior fall prevention plan. Choosing shoes that give plenty of support, and are not slippery are a great start for taking care of your senior.
It’s harder to maintain balance in shoes that don’t fit well. A sensible shoe with good treads does better when walking on uneven or slippery surfaces as well.
It might seem obvious, but keeping boxes, newspapers, and magazines away from high traffic areas will go a long way in preventing falls. Keeping walkways clear and cleaning spills or messes immediately is important.
Turn up the Lights
Having bright lights or more lights around the home means that seniors are less likely to miss steps or trip over objects. Sometimes preventing a fall can be as simple as changing a lightbulb or adding a lamp.
Consider adding night lights or motion detecting lights in rooms and hallways so your loved one doesn’t have to think twice to see where they’re going.
Installing guardrail in areas such as the bathroom and stairwells is a responsible step to take in preventing falls. Bathroom floors, showers and tubs can be high-slip areas.
It’s also easy to miss a step going up or down stairs. Having a guardrail in bathrooms and guardrails on both sides of a stairwell gives seniors something to hold for balance.
With colder weather coming, having guardrails outdoors and sidewalk de-icer nearby will be welcome ways to protect your senior.
Long-Term Fall Prevention Goals
Help with Fitness
Engaging in light exercise helps to maintain flexibility and dexterity. Exercise is also great for maintaining strength and coordination. Your loved one can benefit from Tai-Chi or yoga for low impact group activities. Encourage your senior to go out for a walk and get those steps in! Keep them moving.
Schedule an Eye Exam
Turning up the lights is a great start but don’t forget to check your senior’s vision health. The same principle applies, if they can see it, they can address it. Make sure their glasses have the right prescription. Depending on the prescription, it can change their impression of proximity and even cause dizziness.
Having glasses just for outdoor activities instead of progressives might be a consideration as well, to avoid visual limitations with tinted glasses that may only be helpful in bright outdoor light.
Know Medication Side Effects and Interactions
Talk to the pharmacist and doctors about medications. If your senior loved one takes multiple medications, be sure that there aren’t negative interactions.
Different medications can cause them to feel drowsy. On occasions when medications interact with one another, they can cause dizziness or lightheadedness. Check in with your senior’s medical team to make sure that is not a possible response to medications. Remember to check in about over the counter medications too.
Maintain Doctor’s Appointments
Checking in with the senior’s medical team is an important factor in making sure that you’re doing what you can to protect your loved one.
Help them maintain their regular doctor’s appointments. This year, make a point of getting flu shots. Do your best to mitigate risk for your loved one to help them maintain their strength and health.
Talk to the doctor about whether or not your loved one is at risk of falling and discuss your senior fall prevention plan for their advice for their specific health needs.
Options After a Senior Fall
If your senior loved one experiences a fall or other physical limitations or injuries, make sure to get them checked out as soon as possible. Hospitals and medical facilities are prepared to protect people from COVID-19 when they arrive. Don’t let fear of coronavirus keep you from seeking care.
After a hospital visit, often the first thing on someone’s mind is getting home immediately. After a serious fall, this might not be the safest option for your senior loved one. Making sure your loved one is in a place where they can receive the treatment and care that they need is the most important step on the path to recovery.
Falls can be scary. They can also be painful and dangerous. If your loved one needs assistance after a fall, Kensington Park can provide varied levels of care based on your loved one’s needs. We offer senior care after rehabilitation, if going home immediately after a hospital trip isn’t possible.
We know that during the coronavirus pandemic, trying to find a place that feels safe can be difficult. Kensington Park has all of the resources to allow for a comfortable transition after a major life event.
Kensington Park is also a solution if there are hurdles in the home, such as multiple levels or flights of stairs. If your senior loved one needs more assistance as a result of limited physical mobility from a fall, our team can provide the kind of care that keeps them moving forward.
Knowing that your senior is in a safe environment with caring and exceptionally trained staff means that you can focus on other aspects of their care and recovery. Let us help provide relief during this uncertain time.
Our community of residents and staffers are also an important barrier to isolation and loneliness that can often come with changes as seniors age. Call us to learn what our passionate and engaged team can do to love and care for your family as we do our own.