Senior Falls: Prevention and Proofing
How can we prevent seniors from falling?
There are several root causes of elderly falls that need to be understood in order to prevent some cases of falling. Age brings reduced vision as well as increased illness, loss of strength and slower reflexes. Family members need to understand that these factors increase the risk of falls. You can work with elderly parents to help them understand the risks here, as well as monitor them as much as possible to make sure that these risks are mitigated.
Several practical things can be done to monitor seniors' susceptibility to falls as well as reduce risks:
- Regularly visit a doctor to test eyesight, hearing, reflexes and strength.
- Eat well every day to keep strength up.
- Be aware of the effects of lack of sleep.
- Apply use of handrails, bathroom grab bars, soft bumpers on hard or sharp edges, etc.
- Be aware of the effects (side effects) of medicines such as anti-depressants, tranquilizers, anti-histamines and any other drugs, including both prescription or over-the-counter drugs.
- Monitor and reduce alcohol use.
Fall proofing and awareness for seniors and families today
Today, there are a number of factors that make it much easier for children of aging parents to monitor parents and the risks they face including in home falls.
Here are some suggestions to help elderly parents avoid falls:
Have your elderly parents ping you once a day on Facebook (easy to set up an account and they may even find it surprisingly addictive) or have them send you an email once a day.
Encourage them to make an arrangement with a fellow elderly person (sibling or friend) so that they phone each other once a day (or even more often) just to "touch base." If neither of these tow work, have them phone you once a day (as long as you don't mind this and know how to manage it.)
If seniors and their families are proactive about reducing the risk of falls, beginning with admitting these risks and the necessity of dealing with them, the chance of a bad fall can be greatly reduced. Why not set aside a Saturday to help your aging parent or relative by fall-proofing their home with their help. Examine the risks above and consider ways to fall-proof their home including:
- cleaning traffic areas
- optimizing lighting
- installing handrails
- removing throw rugs and other dangerous obstacles
- reduce or remove clutter
- clearly marking difficult surfaces or transition areas.
Of course, it is always a good idea to use medical alarm services in the unwanted event that a fall does actually happen. These services are relatively affordable and have been shown to save lives and improve care response time significantly.
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