The stats are sobering: One out of four Americans aged 65 and older fall every year. And those who fall are more susceptible to fall-related injuries, from broken bones to head injuries.
Even if an older person survives a fall without an injury, the experience can leave them shaken and fearful of falling again. That, in turn, can lead them to withdraw and become sedentary, which can lead to further physical and mental decline.
By better understanding the factors that lead to falls, seniors and their caregivers can take precautions to help prevent them.
Why do elderly people fall?
- It’s kind of a chicken-egg scenario. Older people may stop exercising because they have a physical condition, like arthritis, that makes moving around difficult. But the lack of exercise (even mild exercise on a regular basis) can result in the loss of muscle strength, decreased bone mass, and loss of coordination and balance.
- Age-related impaired vision can make it difficult to see hazards like steps or thresholds.
- Some medications can cause dizziness that can lead to a fall.
- Chronic health conditions like stroke or diabetes can result in lost function.
Here are a few tips for making things safer:
- If you or a loved one is concerned about falling, dizziness, or balance, consult with a health care provider who can assess risk and suggest programs or services that could help. Programs could include classes like Tai Chi or Stepping On. And be sure to take advantage of the preventive services Medicare provides.
- Make sure you or your loved one has a current prescription for their glasses. And be aware that tint-changing lenses can be hazardous when going from bright sun to darkened buildings. Also, bifocals can sometimes be problematic on stairs.
- Do a home walk-through to check on lighting and stairs. If need be, install grab bars in the tub/shower and near the toilet. The Centers for Disease Control offers a free home safety checklist for you to use.
- Make sure your loved one keeps track of medicines or any side effects and to discuss these with a physician.
As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth of pound or cure. We hope these tips help you keep your loved one or yourself safe from falls.
Family Directed Home Care caregivers can help you or a loved one live safety at home. They can help with a daily routine, personal care, running errands, and more.
Click here to find local caregivers. You can also call us directly at (888) 503-4376.