Falls are the leading cause of death amongst the elderly, but simple steps can be taken to prevent them from happening in the first place. Falling can lead to serious injuries followed by the need for expensive care facilities and rehabilitation. The older you get, the more likely you are to fall, so for people over 65, their caretakers and loved ones, keep these important tips in mind to stay safe.
Eyesight gets weaker as people age which makes it more important than ever to have well lit living areas. Keeping extra bulbs on hand for immediate replacements and having lights that are easy to turn on are two things you can do to help ensure areas stay well lit. Use night lights throughout the home and keep flashlights handy for outages. Buying light bulbs in bulk will also save money.
Choosing the right flooring can be important for senior citizens. Installing anti-slip floor grips on stairs and inclining and declining walkways can help minimize the risk of falling. Anti-slip tape is inexpensive and provides flexibility of installation for all areas of a home. Install grab bars, shower chairs and anti-slip mats to avoid bathroom falls.
Uneven surfaces can be difficult to navigate and should be avoided whenever possible. If there are necessary steps or an area that cannot be repaired, installing handrails to help move through the area safely can reduce the risk of falling. Simple handrails cost less than $100 and are easy to install. Repair loose carpeting, floorboards and other potential hazards as well.
MEDICATION SIDE EFFECTS
It's important to monitor any side effects of medicine, especially when taking something new which may have side effects of it's own or interact with a current medicine. Confusion and loss of balance are two common side effects that greatly increase the risk of falling. Be sure to monitor new medication and talk to a doctor about any side effects.
An aching foot can be a painful annoyance, but it can also be a risk factor in falling and incurring much more serious injuries. Even if it is something small, it is important to follow up with medical professionals to address any problems in the feet or legs. Sensible, sturdy shoes are also a good idea to help maintain balance, and avoid floppy shoes and shoes with no traction.
Memories tend not to be as sharp as we age, but there is also an increasing number of cases of dementia and alzheimer's disease that can increase risk of falling. One of the effects of cognitive disorders is panic and the urge to flee, which often leads to falling or other injuries. If a loved one is suffering from a cognitive disorder be sure that they are on proper medication and under the supervised care that they need.
PROBLEMS WITH VISION
If you can't see something it is much harder to navigate it, which is why it's so important to have your eyes checked regularly. Using a pair of glasses can help overall vision. If there are small steps or turns, use large colorful signs as a reminder to take away the need for acute vision.
Weakness in the bones can make it much more challenging to move around, and many times, people fall because their bones are weak and their hips actually break, causing them to fall, rather than the other way around. Increasing intake of calcium and vitamin D can help keep bones strong and stable.
There are many medical conditions that cause dizziness or shakiness that greatly increase the risk of falling. Be sure to let a doctor know about any new or existing symptoms and get the proper medication and supervised medical care.
LIMITED RANGE OF MOTION
Many seniors have a very limited range of motion, which makes them much more likely to suffer a fall. Doing a gentle daily practice of stretching or yoga can help keep muscles strong and flexible so that moving around and staying balanced is not as challenging.