When you work with senior patients or clients, safety is an important issue. According to the National Council on Aging, one in four people age 65 and older experience falls each year, and falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries to seniors. Fortunately, there are plenty of lifestyle adjustments that can help older individuals avoid falls and maintain an independent lifestyle.
Focusing on Fall Safety
Bringing up fall safety to patients or clients helps them lead fuller, more active lives. Older adults, especially those who have already experienced a fall, sometimes develop a fear of further incidents. This can lead to social isolation, depression and an avoidance of physical activity, all of which could lead to other health problems down the line. Preventing falls also helps avoid traumatic brain injuries and bone fractures, which can limit a senior's ability to live independently. Seniors who know how to adjust their lifestyle to avoid falls feel more confident about participating in everyday activities and social events. The first day of rel="noopener noreferrer" Autumn in September is National Falls Prevention Awareness Day, making it the perfect time to bring up this topic with seniors.
Adjusting Senior Living Conditions to Prevent Falls
Removing potential safety hazards is the first step to preventing falls in the home. Remind seniors to get rid of clutter blocking doorways, reroute any wires or cords that reach across the floor and remove throw rugs that could bunch up and cause a tripping hazard. Well-lit rooms can also help prevent accidents by improving visibility. Seniors should keep curtains open to encourage natural light and ensure that all light bulbs are working in fixtures throughout the home.
Seniors can arrange storage to make commonly used items more accessible. Keeping spices and packaged foods on a low shelf puts them within easy reach and reduces the need for a step stool or excessive stretching that could overbalance a senior and cause a tumble.
There are plenty of devices and accessories available to help seniors move around their homes. Grab bars installed in the bathroom prevent slips on wet floors and make it easier to get in and out of a bathtub or shower. Raised toilet seats with arm bars also improve safety, and slip-resistant rugs provide a comfortable, stable surface for standing and walking. Handrails can be installed throughout the home, particularly in areas with steps or slight changes in elevation between rooms.
Staying Safe Outside the Home
Mobility aids that help seniors navigate through the world make it easier to avoid falls. Walkers and canes add stability for seniors with limited mobility. Seniors often experience changes in vision as part of the aging process, so glasses with up-to-date prescription lenses help older adults avoid potential hazards inside and outside the home. Footwear can also make a big difference in stability during outdoor walks or while running errands. Shoes should have textured bottoms to improve traction, and seniors should ensure they're wearing the right size shoes to make walking easier.
Monitoring Health Conditions to Maintain a Fall-Prevention Lifestyle
Certain health conditions can make seniors more prone to falls, so older individuals should discuss medical concerns with a doctor to reduce the risks. Leg weakness, joint problems and muscle spasms can all lead fall-related injuries. Medication, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines and herbal remedies, can affect balance. Doctors and pharmacists can help seniors understand the potential side effects of any medicines they are taking.
Improving Balance for Fall Avoidance
Many seniors know that exercise is important for healthy aging but might not know that some kinds of exercise help prevent falls. While cardiovascular exercise, such as walking or dancing, is good for the heart and muscles, you can recommend that seniors also include strength and balance exercises to reduce the likelihood of slips and trips. Some good exercises to build muscle strength and balance for fall prevention include swimming, tai chi and strength exercises with light weights.
Seniors and their families who are ready to consider a move to a community where vibrant living, health and safety are a priority can explore our Brightview Living community to learn more about our various locations.