As we age, we become more prone to falling. According to Injury Facts, a third of all non-fatal injuries can be ascribed to a fall. Three million older adults are treated every year in emergency departments for injuries related to falls, with 800,000 hospitalized due to these fall-related injuries. The Centres for Disease Control (CDC) says that 25% of older adults fall each year, fracturing their hips, breaking bones, and even incurring head injuries. Only half of those older adults tell their doctor. Preventing falls is extremely important for older adults. Preventing falls is not just about preventing a scraped bruise and some embarrassment. At the extreme end, falls can lead to injury and even death (every 20 minutes, an older adult dies from fall-related injuries). As National Falls Prevention Awareness Week (September 20-24) approaches, let’s look at some fall prevention tips for seniors.
Make Their Environment Safer
Older adults are not as agile as younger people. Their agility is limited, their core strength weakened, and their proneness to fall maximised. You have to make falling harder, by making walking easier. This means clearing your hallways of clutter, removing any objects blocking doors, and removing anything lying around within their living spaces. Check your home to ensure that it is safe to move around, keeping in mind that your older adult won’t be able to skip away if they suddenly come across an obstacle. Get rid of exposed floorboards, or extension cords, and things like that. The CDC has published a “Checklist for Safety” that you can use to ensure your home is safe.
Get a Grip
Clutter isn’t the only thing that can make older adults fall. Slippery surfaces, such as rugs, and porcelain tubs, can cause older adults to slip and fall. Wet floors, icy outdoor steps, and other such surfaces should also be paid attention to. Whatever your age, these surfaces can cause an older adult to fall. And for older adults, the risks are much higher. Use non-slip products where you can, to replace mats, rugs, and other such surfaces. You can place non-slip treads on outdoor steps, skid-proof your rug backings, or even buy non-slip socks.
Install Adequate Lighting
You should install adequate lighting in stairways, hallways, and bedrooms, so that older adults can see more clearly as they navigate through the house. You could even place reflector tape on steps to guide older adults. It would really help if you would also place light switches within easy reach of older adults.
Build Their Core Strength & Movement
Exercises that build core strength and utilise a lot of movement, are especially important for older adults. Get them involved with tai chi, yoga, swimming, walking and other activities that use movement and build core strength. These exercises will ensure that your older adult remains strong, flexible and well-balanced. Speak to a physical therapist if you need assistance with beginning an exercise program. Your older adult can enjoy these exercises as part of their elderly home care.