Tripping and falling among seniors is an everyday occurrence. One out of every four seniors trip and fall every year, and it’s one of their biggest fears. Fortunately, there are steps you can take as a family caregiver to minimize trip and fall hazards for the senior in your life.
Why Are Seniors More Prone to Falling?
There are many factors that lead to seniors being prone to falls. They include:
- Poor balance
- Diminished coordination
- Loss of joint flexibility
- Medications causing dizziness
- Trip hazards in the home
- Having dementia, Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s disease
- Weakened muscles and bones
- Chronic health issues, such as diabetes, arthritis, or heart disease
Some of these factors are caused by age-related conditions and illnesses, causing a senior to become less active and diminish their quality of life. However, the opportunity to minimize the risk is within our control for some of these causes.
Preventing Tripping and Falling
The chances of your senior slipping and falling can never be totally eliminated; however, steps can be taken to reduce that risk. They include:
Talk Openly With Them
If there are indicators that your loved one is concerned about falling, such as holding onto furniture or grabbing onto objects to steady themselves, have a discussion with them. Tell them what you’ve noticed and assure them that you’re there to help. Gently reassuring them can ease some of their anxiety over falling.
Have Their Balance Tested
A doctor or physical therapist can test their balance and coordination. If they fail the test, discuss possible causes. See if adjustments to medication may help or if lifestyle adjustments can be made. Your senior may need to start using a cane or walker to keep them safer.
Check Their Vision
As they age, the ability to see trip and fall hazards becomes more difficult. If needed, a new set of lenses can help immensely. Wearing glasses with tint-changing lenses can also be a problem when going from sunlight into a darker building. Consider eliminating that type of lens and get a separate pair of sunglasses for them when they’re outdoors. Lastly, bear in mind that bifocals can cause problems when using stairs.
Encourage Them to Exercise
If they are still mobile, encourage them to participate in regular exercise. Low-impact activities like Tai Chi, Yoga, water aerobics, or walking helps strengthen bones and muscles. It also improves joint flexibility and boosts self-confidence. This can reduce the risk of your senior experience a trip or fall.
Assess Home Safety
Take a walk around your home and/or your senior’s home and perform a safety assessment. Eliminate hazards such as throw rugs, ottomans, or other furniture they can trip over. Other things you can look for as you do your assessment include:
- Check the home’s lighting. Improve brightness wherever it’s needed, especially in stairways. Be sure their bedroom, bathroom, and hallway have nightlights so they can see if they get up during the night.
- Examine the stairs. In addition to adding more light, putting fluorescent tape and having handrails on both sides will reduce the chances of the stairs being the location for a trip or fall.
- Make adjustments in the bathroom. This is where most trips and falls occur. Make it safer by installing grab bars in the tub/shower and near the toilet. Consider installing a walk-in tub, shower chair, or hand-held shower wand for an extra layer of security.
- Consider the effects of pets. If there is a cat or dog in the home, be sure all supplies and beds are out of the way. If the pet likes lying in a foot traffic area, have them safely secured in another room before your loved one heads to bed.
Compassionate Senior Care Rooted In Knowledge, Integrity and Trust
New Wave Home Care has been providing an additional layer of protection and personalized in-home care for over 10 years. We know what to look for to minimize trip and fall hazards in a senior’s home. If you need assistance with home care for an aging family member, we can help. When we talk together, you’ll receive personal attention on your very first call. Contact us today. We look forward to helping you and the special person in your life.