Children fall all the time. They always seem to be covered with bruises and bumps from constant tumbles and accidents.
When adults fall, it can be painful – but mostly for your ego.
Seniors falling, on the other hand, is an entirely different story. Elderly falls can cause serious injury or even fatalities.
Fortunately, you can reduce the fall risk of you or your loved one by taking proper precautions.
The Dangers of Seniors Falling
Falling poses a serious risk to seniors and the elderly.
As the human body ages, it loses its ability to heal quickly. That’s why children are able to bounce back from falls nearly instantly while adults take longer to recover.
When it comes to seniors falling, they may never recover completely. Even a minor fall can turn fatal under certain circumstances.
Here are a few reasons why falls are so dangerous according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
- One out of five falls results in a serious injury of any kind.
- 300,000 older adults are hospitalized each year for hip fractures.
- Falls cause nearly 95% of hip fractures.
- After a fall, older adults may become fearful of falling and reduce their activity.
It’s common for seniors to fall and never tell anyone about it. They may be worried about losing their independence or frightening their loved ones.
In fact, according to the CDC, more than 25% of seniors fall each year, but much less tell their doctors about it. After a fall, it’s important for people of all ages to see a doctor to rule out a potential TBI which might not produce any symptoms.
Elderly Falls: Assessing Fall Risk for You or Your Loved One
According to the CDC, unintentional elderly falls are at an all-time high and show no signs of slowing down. Since your loved one may not mention they’ve fallen to you, it’s important to take a proactive approach to help reduce their fall risk.
Fortunately, most fall risk factors can be reduced or eliminated by making environmental and lifestyle changes. Factors that increase the risk of seniors falling could include:
- Whole-body weakness due to age-related reduced muscle mass.
- Low levels of vitamin D (a necessary vitamin that assists calcium absorption).
- Balance issues
- Medications that affect balance such as tranquilizers, muscle relaxers, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications.
- Vision trouble
- Foot pain
- Environmental hazards such as footwear, rugs, ice, or broken steps.
- You’ve fallen before. A previous fall doubles your risk of falling again.
In most cases, multiple risk factors contribute to a fall. It’s important to address all issues on the list to reduce you or your loved one’s fall risk.
7 Actions You Can Take to Prevent Falling
It’s unfortunate that more seniors don’t speak up about falls because open communication can help reduce elderly falls. At the same time, falling can be embarrassing and scary. No one wants to sacrifice their independence.
By addressing the risk factors in a comprehensive manner, you can help prevent falling. Most changes are simple and fairly easy. Others may take some time to incorporate into your routine. To prevent falling, however, it’s important to make these suggestions a priority.
1. Talk to Your Doctor
Ask your doctor to evaluate your fall risk. See if they have suggestions relevant to your personal medical history and situation. Have your doctor review your prescription medications to make sure nothing can cause dizziness. If a medication cannot be stopped, ask what you can do to compensate for dizziness or coordination issues.
2. Review Your Medications
You’ll also need to evaluate your over-the-counter medications. Many supplements and other drug store meds can cause drowsiness or dizziness. Talk to your doctor to make sure these items won’t interfere with any other prescription medications you take.
3. Get Adequate Calcium, Vitamin D, and Magnesium
These minerals all work together to support bone health. Vitamin D helps your body properly absorb and utilize calcium while magnesium helps your body properly use vitamin D. Talk to your doctor to have your blood levels checked and discuss supplement options.
Symptoms of vitamin D and magnesium deficiency may include:
- Unexplained muscle soreness, twitching, and cramps.
- Anxiety and depression.
- In many cases, no symptoms are present.
4. Have Your Vision Checked
If your lens prescription is old, it could throw off your vision. Objects may seem closer or farther away than they should. It’s important to wear the correct glasses at the right time to stay balanced and prevent falling.
5. Wear Proper Footwear
Talk to your doctor about addressing any foot pain. Avoid wearing slip-on shoes, or socks that could cause you to trip. Look for fitted shoes with rubber soles for a good grip.
6. Fall-proof Your Home
Keep clutter off the floor and remove rugs you could trip over. Install bars in the bathroom near the toilet and shower. Water + tile is a recipe for disaster when it comes to falls. To prevent falls, consider a shower seat.
Make sure to repair any broken steps outside the home and always keep ice-melt outside your door during the winter months.
7. Get Active
Regular physical activity is important for preventing falls. You need a variety of activity to improve muscle strength, flexibility, and balance. Try low-impact muscle strengthening exercises as well as tai chi and yoga for improving balance.
The Victorian Assisted Living and Retirement Community in South Dakota
The Victorian offers comprehensive assisted living services for seniors. We give you the option to live independently in our retirement community. We also provide assistance with daily living tasks in our assisted living community, and personalized care for whatever needs you may have.
You and your loved ones can rest assured knowing our qualified staff is available 24/7 to prevent falling and reduce fall risk. Physical activity is part of our engaging activity program to help reduce fall risk, and our location is centrally located near two hospitals. If you or your loved one is considering assisted living, contact The Victorian today to learn more about our services or tour our community.