5 ways to help your loved ones prevent falls
As individuals age, they will experience greater risk with health and safety with every step they take. It is inevitable with time. Everyday tasks, such as moving about the home or getting a change of clothes, can pose significant hazards for loved ones.
A fall can be harmless to younger individuals, but can lead to serious health complications in aging people. Hip fractures, broken bones and head trauma are just some of the types of injuries that raise great concern.
One in four Americans will experience an injury by falling. Falls, in fact, are a leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among people 65 years and older. While not every fall leads to serious injury, it can certainly instill fear and hesitation the next time around.
That’s no way to live.
Fortunately, by taking proactive measures, you and your family can substantially reduce everyday risks. By being aware of risk factors and taking steps to address them, you can empower your loved one to lead a healthier, safer and more independent life.
Balance, vision, medications, surroundings and chronic illness are four critical risk factors. Here are some examples:
- As people age, it’s natural for them to ”lose a step”. Balance, coordination and flexibility won’t be what it used to be. If your aging loved one is less active, then this particular risk factor can be compounded by everyday activities around the home.
- Vision also will be impacted by the effects of aging. Physiologically, aging retinas will absorb less light and reduce the overall ability to see. As a result, people with poor vision are more likely to experience tripping hazards as everyday objects become obstacles..
- A range of prescription and over-the-counter medicines can cause dizziness or dehydration. They also can interact with the body in such a way to reduce the ability to balance, for example, and increase the chances of a serious injury from a fall.
- The vast majority of individuals over the age of 65 live with at least one chronic condition. Diabetes, arthritis or a previous stroke can multiply risk. Some of these illnesses cause impaired movement, pain and depression. Each of these risk factors, or a combination of them, puts seniors at a mobility disadvantage.
Despite the abundance of risk factors, there are concrete steps that can counterbalance the possible impacts, as illustrated below.
Have a conversation about their health
Sit down and have an open discussion about your loved one’s current health status. You might already be aware. Your loved one might already be aware too. It’s in shared knowledge and understanding, however, where true progress in developing strategies can be made.
It’s possible that your loved one is taking medications haphazardly, leading to unwanted interactions and side effects. Or, your loved one might be less mobile than they’re willing to admit. Without an honest discussion about their current health status, it’s not possible to implement effective preventive measures. Without sharing the truth about their health, it’s not possible to adequately inform your loved one’s medical team either.
A thorough discussion about your loved one’s health can eliminate unnecessary and potentially unsafe blind spots. An honest talk also will get the ball rolling on critical discussions with home-care experts and medical professionals.
Conduct a home walk-through
Improving the overall safety inside the home does not need to be expensive or require fancy hardware.
Begin with a simple walk-through in the home to identify some possible hazards. One of the first things to check is the home’s lighting. Increased lighting leads to improved visibility. If needed, install new lighting around the areas they use at nighttime, such as bedrooms and staircases.
Other areas to examine include the stairs and bathrooms. Make sure the stairs’ rails are tightly secured. Also inspect the floor finish along the stairs — loose carpet or trimming can pose a serious risk for tripping and falling. Inside the bathroom, bars in the shower and near the toilet and non-slip material along all surfaces enhance home safety. Area rugs are a huge fall risk and should be removed whenever possible.
Look for signs of reduced mobility
If your family member seems to struggle more than usual to get around, it’s probably time to look for signs of diminished mobility. This can include them holding onto walls more than usual or leaning on furniture or grabbing your arm as you walk side by side.
Any of these signs can indicate a need to see a physical therapist. With the help of a professional, your loved one can often learn ways to improve balance, gait and overall strength. As they improve in these areas, they also will significantly reduce their risks for falling.
Visit the eye doctor
When was the last time your loved one saw an optometrist? If it’s been a while, then a visit is in order. Outdated prescriptions are a script for unnecessary risk. Do they wear transition eyewear? Then it’s possible that tint-changing lenses may also be impairing their vision as they enter or exit buildings. A doctor might advise to do away with these lenses and to instead switch between glasses upon entering or exiting a building.
Getting your loved one fully updated with their eyewear and vision care is a huge step forward in minimizing risk.
Get them involved
An effective way to shrink the possibility of a fall is to get everyone in their circle involved in care.
It’s normal for aging individuals to have the false mindset that they’re not at risk. They’re not old enough, they might argue. Denial is a common but dangerous problem. But without engaging them, it’s difficult to gauge their level of confidence. So, two appropriate steps are to ask a loved one if they have concerns about falling, then to follow up with some education on prevention. Together, you can address any risk factors they might face and implement safety measures that build confidence, secure environments and help to keep your beloved family member out of harm’s way.
At Cherished Companions, our caregivers take health and safety seriously and will have ongoing communication with family members about the risks of falls and how to help prevent them.
For further questions, to request resources, or to inquire about having your loved one utilize our services, contact Cherished Companions today on our website or call (440) 484-5390!
+ Bonus Caregiver Questions To Ask Before You Choose An Agency
As you prepare to interview care agencies, take a look at the agency’s website to learn basic information about the types of care provided, specific services available, and payment options. You can expand on these topics with additional questions during the interview. Keep these tips in mind during the research process:
- Get recommendations. Talk to healthcare professionals in the field, your mom or dad’s doctor, and any friends or family members you know who have worked with a home care agency previously. Ask them which agencies they have had the best experience with and find out what they think about each provider you plan to contact. Look online for reviews and ratings. Do they have a lot of reviews? Look for independent review sites that have verified reviews such as bestofhomecare.com and look for agencies that have awards. See if they are accredited through the BBB and if they have an A+ rating.
- Check references. The agency should supply a list of references such as health agencies, rehabilitation facilities, social workers and other providers they have worked with. Call these references and ask them whether they regularly refer patients to the agency and what sort of feedback they have heard from clients.
- Consider the agency’s technology innovation. Does the agency have an online portal where you can view care plans and communicate with caregivers? Do they respond to communication quickly? Can you access information about your loved one via mobile? These are all useful ways to stay informed about your mom or dad’s care.
- Understand their process. Will you have the opportunity to interview caregivers? What happens if the caregiver isn’t a good fit? Will the same caregiver serve your loved one at each visit? How does the agency provide accountability for quality of service?
Download Your Guide
We understand the importance of finding the right caregiver for your family member. The questions included in this guide will help make this process as straightforward and informative as possible.
Give your mom or dad the gift of independence at home with quality, compassionate in-home care.