A third of adults over the age of 65 fall every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unfortunately, less than half of them talk to their doctors about it. The changing of the season offers the perfect opportunity for caregivers to take a closer look at how to keep seniors safe from potentially life-threatening falls.
The 411 on Falls
Over the course of a single year alone, more than 2.5 million older adults were treated in emergency rooms for non-fatal falls. Of these, just over 700,000 were hospitalized. In fact, falls are the leading cause of injuries -- both fatal and nonfatal -- for seniors. Statistics grow even grimmer with advanced aged: people who fall over the age of 75 are as much as five times more likely to be admitted for long-term care than those just 10 years younger.
In addition to causing injuries including head traumas, hip fractures, and lacerations, falls can perpetuate a vicious cycle including loss of mobility, lack of physical fitness, and a continual fear of falling. This not only leads to a decline in independence, but has also been linked with increased risk of early death.
Four Fall Prevention Tips
Caregivers can help their aging loved ones avoid falls and increase their confidence levels through the following methods:
Weight bearing exercise helps seniors build strength and improve their balance. Even a brief walk can have beneficial outcomes. Since beginning an exercise routine can be intimidating, start slow and build from there. Or, look into programs for older adults at local senior centers or gyms. Just make sure to first clear any new activity with your aging loved one's physician.
Did you know that your aging loved one’s medications may be making him drowsy or dizzy? Ask his physician or a pharmacist to review his complete medication list, including both OTC and prescription meds, in order to identify any potentially adverse reactions.
Because the majority of falls occur in and around the home, reduce trip hazards by clearing your aging loved one’s living space of clutter and cords, installing grab bars in the bathroom, improving lighting, and adding railings to stairways.
As poor eyesight can also lead to trips and falls, have your aging loved one’s eyesight routinely checked by an eye doctor.
Making sure your aging loved one gets plenty of calcium and vitamin D, meanwhile, can help reduce his risk of fractures in the event that a fall does occur.
Why not take a few minutes as the leaves start to turn this season to assess your loved one’s fall risk? Their health and well being may depend on it.
While falls can be a fact of life for seniors, caregivers can lower their loved one’s risk of falling by taking a few preventative measures.
The fear of falling can be as dangerous as the fall itself, and may lead to equally debilitating outcomes.
Doctors can play a valuable role in safeguarding senior health and heading off falls by reviewing medications and conducting routine vision checks.
My journey into the world of senior living began when I started working for United Methodist Homes in 2010. Starting as an Activities Director at one of our-winning assisted and independent living communities and then transitioning to Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, I now work as the Manager of Mission Development, fostering the Mission and Values of our organization. I love sharing stories about the many ways we build meaningful relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve, and am proud to be part of building UMH’s 140-year legacy of caring. Wondering what makes our communities such special places to live and work? Connect with me and find out!
Connect with Marissa Salvesen
Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.