Falls are the leading cause of injury of people over the age of 65.According to the CDC, there were over 29 million falls among older adults in the U.S. in 2014. Seven million of those falls caused injuries, of which more than 27 thousand were fatal.
To prevent injury and have long, healthy lives, it is crucial for seniors and those recovering from surgeries to avoid falls as much as possible. Fortunately, fall prevention can be easier than you would think.
The Causes Of Falls
Before getting into how to prevent falls, it's important to understand the main causes of them in the first place.
Here are the most common:
Changes in balance and gait. As people age, they tend to lose flexibility, and their coordination begins to deteriorate. This changes the way they balance and how they walk.
Deteriorating vision. An older adult's eyes don't absorb as much light as the eye of a younger person. This makes it difficult to see edges and obstacles.
Complications from medications. Some drugs can cause individuals to experience dizziness, vertigo, loss of coordination and dehydration. All of these put you at risk for falls.
The home environment. Some homes are not easy for seniors to navigate. Potential problem areas include narrow doors, slippery floors and stairs.
Chronic medical conditions. Medical conditions that put you at a higher risk for falls include arthritis, diabetes and strokes. All of these conditions, as well as others, can cause loss of motor function, pain and difficulty walking.
Easy Ways To Prevent Falls
If you are worried about your loved one's safety, the first step you need to do is talk with him or her. Most seniors are aware of the dangers of falling. However, they often believe falls won't happen to them. It is important to get them to start talking about it.
In addition to addressing your concerns, here are five other steps you can take:
Talk about their current health. If your loved one has untreated health problems or conditions like arthritis, they may be more at risks for falls. Do they take their medications on time? Are they having any side effects? Encourage them to have open discussions with their doctors about any issues or problems and watch for any symptoms that could make them more susceptible to falling.
Check the eyes. Make sure your loved one has had an eye exam within the last year. Be sure they are using any prescriptions as recommended by the doctor. If their glasses change due to lighting, they may need a second pair of glasses when inside a dim area. If they have low vision, you might suggest a visit to a low vision specialist.
Ask about medications. Many seniors have to take multiple medications. This can make things confusing due to varying dosages and administration times. In addition to causing unwarranted side effects, some medicines can also cause complications when taken together. Bring up any new symptoms with their doctor, and ensure their doctor has a current list of all medications and dosages.
Check on non-prescription medications. Supplements and over-the-counter drugs can also cause dizziness and balance. An often overlooked culprit is sleep supplements. These can remain in your system for hours after you wake up. If your loved one is having trouble sleeping, he or she needs to talk to their doctor about options with fewer side effects.
Check the house for safety hazards. Dim lighting can be changed out for brighter lighting. Make sure there are secure rails on both sides of every staircase. Get grab bars installed in the bathroom for both the tub and the toilet.
Taking these simple tips can help prevent a fall for your loved one. Follow these on a regular basis to help keep your loved one safe.
Fall-proof your home to keep your loved one safe. Download our free Fall Prevention Checklist.