Children fall all the time. They shake it off and move along. It’s a natural part of growing up.
For seniors, falls are also a common occurrence, and may have more serious consequences. The single largest cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries to American seniors comes from falling. Each year more than one out of four older people fall. If you do fall, be sure to report it to your healthcare provider, even if you do not believe you hurt yourself.
Risk Factor of Falls
According to the CDC:
- Each year, 3 million old people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries.
- Over 800,000 patients a year are hospitalized because of a fall injury.
- Each year at least 300,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures.
- Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
The Psychological Effects of Falling
Many seniors, especially those who have fallen, become afraid of falling, even if not injured. This fear may cause a person to cut down on their everyday activities. When a person is less active, they become weaker, and this increases their chances of falling. Falling once doubles your chance of falling again.
What You Can Do to Prevent Falls
There are simple steps to minimize your risk of falls.
- Ensure your home is safe. 6 out of every 10 falls occur at home. This is easy to do because we tend to move around without thinking about safety.
- Add grab bars inside and outside your tub or shower and next to the toilet.
- Place non-skid pads in areas that might get wet.
- Put railings on both sides of stairs.
- Increase lighting throughout your home, especially on your way to the bathroom and on the top and bottom of the stairs.
- Consider adding brighter bulbs throughout your home.
- Ensure areas you walk are uncluttered. Keep books, shoes, papers, and clothes off the floor.
- Keep your telephone near your bed.
- Keep a flashlight near your bed in case of power outage.
- Your pets don’t want to hurt you. Know where your dog or cat is whenever you’re standing or walking.
- Review all your new medications with your healthcare provider or pharmacist. Ask if any might make you dizzy or sleepy. Ask about over the counter as well as prescription medications.
- If you feel any type of drowsiness or dizziness on your medications, discuss your symptoms with your doctor and review potential solutions.
- Check your vision
- Have a routine eye exam every six months.
- Minor adjustment to your glasses may make a significant difference.
- Wear your glasses.
- Do Strength Exercises*
- Lifting weights
- Gripping a tennis ball
- Wall push-ups
- Using a resistance band
- Do Balance Exercises*
- Learn Thai Chi
- The heel-to-toe walk
- Standing from a seated position
What To Do If You Fall
- Access Your Well-being
- Take several deep breathes to try to relax.
- Can you get up? Does it hurt if you try?
- Stay down as long as it takes.
- Don’t overexert yourself by forcing yourself up too soon.
- If You Think You Can Get Up
- Roll over onto your side.
- Rest again while your body and blood pressure adjust.
- Slowly get on your hands and feet and crawl to a sturdy chair.
- Get up on one knee at a time.
- Slowly rise and turn your body to fit on the chair.
- Inform your healthcare provider of your fall.
There are many ways to prevent falls. A Peaceful Way Home Care caregivers are trained to be cognizant of these and take preventive steps to reduce or eliminate falls for their clients. If your senior loved one lives alone and you are concerned for their safety, contact us for a free assessment.
*Be sure to check with your healthcare professional before starting any new exercise activity.