The Importance of Preventing Falls in Older People
According to the , falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in people age 65 and older. One out of three people in this age group falls each year, and more than 90 percent of hip fractures are caused by falling.
While people of any age fall for a variety of reasons, a fall can be especially dangerous to older adults because a senior is more likely to break a bone in a fall. A broken bone in a senior can lead to a long recovery period and loss of independence.
How to Prevent the Elderly from Falling
Knowing the reasons why seniors fall can help you learn how to prevent such an accident from happening to your loved one. Personal factors like age, lack of activity or exercise, bad habits (like smoking or drinking alcohol), and poor diet increase the risk for falls or accidents. Some of the other reasons seniors fall include:
- Balance or mobility issues
- Slow reflexes and reduced muscle strength
- Improper footwear causing loss of traction and slipping
- Prior illness
- Poor vision
- Medication side effects (feeling dizzy and weak)
Accidents can occur any time, but by taking some extra precautions, preventing falls in the elderly is possible. A few things to keep in mind for elderly fall prevention include:
- Regular exercise. Physical activity is important to prevent falls in the elderly. There are many balance exercises that are safe for seniors that can help improve their stability, flexibility and muscle strength.
- Invest in proper footwear. Seniors should wear shoes that fit well, have non-skid soles and provide good support. They should avoid high-heeled or slippery shoes and floppy slippers, and never walk around the house in just their stocking feet.
- Maintain doctor appointments. Reduce the risk of falling by getting eyesight and hearing checked at least once per year. Seniors need to be able to see objects in their path that could cause them to lose their balance, after all.
- Learn about medication side effects. Seniors are usually on a variety of medications, some of which could have side effects that affect balance. They should get informed about the medications they’re taking, especially when taking a combination of medicines.
- Safeguard the home or living space. Take a look around a senior’s home and note possible things that could cause a fall, like area rugs, cords, or doorway thresholds. Try to keep the home as clear of clutter as possible and keep it well lit. Install sturdy railings on the stairways and grab bars in the tub or shower.
- Be ready in case of an emergency. Seniors need to have a plan ready should an emergency situation arise. Consider investing in an alert device or carry a cordless phone or cell phone at all times. Arrange check-ins with a friend or family member daily.
Physical Therapy for Seniors After a Fall
After a fall, physical therapy will be vital for seniors to regain their strength and independence. At Lourdes-Noreen McKeen, we provide physical therapy to ensure the highest quality of life for our residents. Physical therapy can help speed up recovery time and make daily tasks easy once again, as well as reduce the risk for future injuries.