People aged 65 and older account for up to 35 percent of the total falls that occur each year. Falls are the leading cause of both life-threatening and non-life-threatening injuries among people of this age.
Broken bones, fractures, and brain injuries are some of the most common types of injuries that can be caused by falls. When it comes to falls, though, the risk of bodily injury is not the only thing you need to be concerned about. Accidents like this can also play a role in the development of anxiety in elderly people.
There are, thankfully, things that you can do to avoid falls from occurring. In this piece, we will go over nine tried and true fall prevention methods that you can start using right away to keep yourself safe both inside and outside the house.
What are the Risk Factors for Falls in the Elderly?
A healthy elderly man taking a break while doing gymnastics outside in the fresh air
Knowing what variables contribute to falls in the first place is essential to developing a fall prevention strategy that is both successful and efficient. The following are some things that you should keep an eye out for:
The Gait and Your Balance.
Coordination, balance, and flexibility are all things that might suffer with advancing age. The majority of the time, this is due to a lack of physical activity, which also raises the danger of falling.
When your eyes get older, a smaller amount of light is able to reach your retina. This makes it more difficult to identify potential trip hazards, edges, and obstructions in the path.
There is a good chance that you require medication on a more regular basis now than you did when you were younger. Unfortunately, several of these medicines can cause you to become dehydrated, make you dizzy, and interact negatively with one another. Falls are a possibility as a result of these impacts.
For some people, an ordinary house could be quite safe, but for older people, this could not be the case at all. It is possible for falls to occur in an environment like this if appropriate changes are not made.
Conditions that persist over time.
85 percent of those who are considered to be older adults are coping with one or more chronic health issues. The loss of function, pain, and inactivity that are caused by chronic illnesses like arthritis, stroke, and diabetes all contribute to an increased risk of falling. This is especially true for older adults.
Wearing ill-fitting shoes or slippers without proper traction can contribute to instability and falls. Foot pain, numbness, or other foot conditions can also affect balance and gait.
Lack of Physical Activity
Inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle can lead to muscle weakness, poor balance, and decreased flexibility, increasing the risk of falls. Regular exercise, particularly strength and balance training, can help improve stability and reduce falls.
Natural age-related changes like decreased reaction time, diminished coordination, and changes in bone density can contribute to falls.
Conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can impair judgment, decision-making, and awareness of one’s surroundings, increasing the risk of falls.
Having experienced a fall in the past can be an indicator of increased fall risk in the future. A previous fall may signal underlying health issues or environmental factors that need to be addressed.
It’s important for seniors, their families, and healthcare providers to be aware of these factors and take appropriate measures to reduce the risk of falls. This may include regular exercise, home modifications, medication review, regular vision and hearing check-ups, and maintaining a safe and supportive environment. Consulting with a healthcare professional can provide personalized advice and guidance for fall prevention strategies.
Tips on How to Prevent Falls.
Now that we’ve examined some of the elements that contribute to an increased risk of falling, it’s time to look at some of the ways in which we might avoid falling. Have a look at these nine useful tips that are listed below.
1. Get More Exercise.
Strength in your muscles may be maintained with regular exercise. If you want to maintain healthy joints, ligaments, and tendons, you should participate in exercises that emphasize balance, flexibility, and strength training. Participating in regular physical activity not only maintains bone health but also lowers the probability of developing osteoporosis.
2. Check Your Diet.
Eating meals that are beneficial to bone health is yet another method for maintaining bone health. It is helpful to consume a balanced diet with an adequate amount of vitamin D and calcium. A loss in bone mass can make it more likely that your bones will shatter if you fall, therefore it’s important to steer clear of behaviors like smoking and drinking alcohol that can have a negative impact on your health.
3. Always Remember To Record Your Medication Intake.
As was mentioned previously, an increased dosage of medication is associated with an increased risk of falling. Dizziness, tiredness, disorientation, and weakness are all common adverse reactions to medication, and many medications cause these reactions. It is also possible that you will have the urge to use the restroom more frequently.
Talk to your doctor about any negative reactions to the medicines you’re taking if you find that you’re experiencing them. They might be able to suggest many choices that are better for your health.
4. Make Sure You Get Enough Rest.
Make it a daily priority to get the recommended amount of rest. Confusion, slower mobility, and decreased environmental awareness are all symptoms of sleep deprivation, which can lead to dangerous situations. In addition, your reflexes and response time will be slower, which will further enhance the likelihood that you may fall.
If you become aware that you are fatigued or worn out, sit or lie down until you feel as though you have been restored.
5. Avoid Walking After Drinking.
When you drink alcohol, your vision, balance, hearing, and overall awareness of your surroundings are all negatively affected. It also makes it simpler to misjudge your step, which can increase the likelihood of you falling down. When some medications are taken together, the risk of having a fall that results in serious injury is increased even further.
6. Make Sure to Put on Appropriate Footwear.
The risk of falling is increased when you wear shoes that are too loose, especially high heels, backless slip-ons, or shoes with an open toe. For example, walking in high heels requires you to take shorter steps, which increases the likelihood that you will fall.
To our relief, this is one of the difficulties that can be resolved with relatively little effort. Choose shoes with a low heel, non-skid soles made of rubber, and slip resistance instead. You might also opt with shoes that have laces and soles that are slip-resistant.
7. Take it Easy and Ask for Assistance.
When you first stand up from a sitting or lying position, it is not unusual to experience feelings similar to lightheadedness and unsteadiness. To prevent you from falling as you start to move, you should practice standing up slowly and take a time to get your bearings before you go.
When moving around on foot, it is recommended that you make use of a cane or walker. This provides you with some support while you are moving, which is especially helpful when you are walking outside. You might also consult with your physical therapist regarding the best walking aid for you to utilize and how to use it when you are out and about.
8. Exercise Caution on Surfaces That Are Wet or Icy.
Everyone will fall on ice spots every once in a while. However, as we get older, our risk of falling on these surfaces rises. Because of this, it is extremely important that you check to make sure that puddles and ice have been removed from steps and walkways before you walk on them.
When going outside in ice weather, make sure to wear shoes that are durable. Even better, if you can help it, stay indoors during wet or snowy weather, and if you need to buy groceries, make use of one of the many services that will bring the items you need right to your door.
9. Carry Out A Comprehensive Risk Assessment Of Your Dwelling.
This particular tip for preventing falls among older adults is probably the most crucial of them all. If you want to spend your golden years at home rather than in an assisted living facility, it is imperative that you take the necessary precautions to ensure that it is safe for you to move around in your home. The good news is that there are a lot of straightforward approaches to accomplish this goal.
To begin, you should improve the lighting throughout your home, focusing especially on the areas at the top and bottom of your staircase. The goal is to improve visibility throughout your home; therefore, you should ensure that it is not difficult to get lighting while getting up in the middle of the night.
Next, install sturdy handrails on every set of stairs. These offer support while you are climbing and descending the stairs in your home. Put grab bars within easy reach in your bathtub and close to the toilet. You should also think about putting in a shower chair and a hand-held showerhead if you need further assistance when showering.
Benefits of Fall Prevention Tips For Seniors
Applying fall prevention techniques for seniors can have numerous benefits. Here are some key advantages:
- Reduced risk of injury: Falls can result in severe injuries such as fractures, head trauma, and sprains. By implementing fall prevention strategies, the likelihood of such injuries can be significantly reduced, leading to improved overall safety and well-being for seniors.
- Enhanced independence: Falling can often lead to a loss of confidence and fear of future falls, causing seniors to limit their activities and become more dependent on others. By preventing falls, seniors can maintain their independence, continue engaging in their daily activities, and enjoy a higher quality of life.
- Preservation of physical health: Fall prevention techniques often involve regular exercise, which helps improve strength, balance, and flexibility. Engaging in physical activity can help seniors maintain their physical health, prevent muscle weakness and frailty, and reduce the risk of other chronic conditions.
- Psychological well-being: Falls can have a significant psychological impact on older adults, leading to anxiety, depression, and a diminished sense of well-being. By implementing fall prevention strategies, seniors can experience increased confidence, reduced fear, and improved mental health.
- Cost savings: Falls among older adults can result in significant healthcare costs, including hospitalization, rehabilitation, and ongoing medical care. By preventing falls, there can be substantial cost savings for individuals, families, and healthcare systems.
- Improved social participation: Fear of falling can often lead to social isolation as seniors may avoid participating in community activities or spending time with family and friends. By reducing the risk of falls, older adults are more likely to engage in social interactions and maintain an active social life.
- Better overall health outcomes: Fall prevention techniques typically encompass multiple aspects of health, such as exercise, medication management, and regular check-ups. By addressing these areas, seniors can experience improved overall health outcomes, reduced hospitalizations, and a better overall quality of life.
It’s important to note that fall prevention should be approached holistically, considering individual needs and circumstances. Working with healthcare professionals, such as physicians, physical therapists, and occupational therapists, can help develop personalized fall prevention plans that cater to specific risks and requirements of each senior.
You Have the Ability to Prevent Falls.
The likelihood that we may experience a fall as we become older is inevitable; nevertheless, this does not mean that we are unable to prevent them. You may ensure that falls do not interfere with your ability to enjoy the activities of daily living by putting the advice for preventing falls that we have provided in this post into practice.
You can reduce your risk of falling by doing exercises that help improve your balance and build strength in your legs. Additionally, it makes you feel better overall and boosts your confidence. Tai chi is one form of exercise that fits under this category.
Do not clean the floor with any products that have the potential to make it slippery. Remove everything that could cause someone to trip, such as cords, wires, empty boxes, and clutter, from the pathways, staircases, and lobbies of the building. Check to see that the floor mats are lying flat rather than being crumpled or clumped together. Always hold onto the handrails when walking up or down stairs.
It’s important to keep the spaces you walk in clean. Books, papers, clothes, and shoes should never be left on the floor or stairs unattended. Make sure that all of the carpets are securely fastened to the floor so that they won’t slide around. Tile and wooden floors should both have non-slip strips installed, which may be purchased at any hardware shop.