COVID-19 has and continues to impact us in many ways, including making the risk of falls even higher than before. Seniors are spending more time being alone in their rooms and homes. Falling is the leading cause of not only injury but also death in seniors. As we get older, medications, health conditions, and physical changes increase the risks of falls. Falls can cause serious injuries like head injuries and broken bones such as: ankle, wrist, arm, and hip fractures. It is very important to keep a safe setting and to be cautious of surroundings. Our goal is to raise awareness of fall prevention measures and to reduce the risks of falls for seniors, so they can focus on the things that truly matter.
The risk of falling in seniors can be due to many factors such as:
- Poor footwear
- Foot pain
- Balance problems
- Multiple medication use of antidepressants, sedatives, tranquilizers, or certain over-the-counter medications
WHY DO ELDERLY PEOPLE FALL?
After going through surgery, seniors often feel weak. Because they are in pain and suffer discomfort, they are less active than before the surgery. Health also plays a large role in falls. Arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s can affect strength, balance, and joints. It is more difficult for the elderly to recover from accidents than when they were young. Their response time is delayed, making recoveries more difficult. Medication use also puts the elderly more at risk of falls. Dizziness, low blood pressure, and drowsiness are all side effects that play a large role in falls. Not exercising on a daily basis results in reduced muscle mass, decreased bone mass, and reduced flexibility.
Falls often occur in the bathroom when sitting or standing from the toilet or shower or at night in a dark bedroom when getting up quickly and tripping on the way to the bathroom. Keeping a clean and tidy space is something an AnswerCare nurse is able to assist with as well as rearranging furniture. A clutter-free home will make mobilization easier. The following are beneficial fall prevention tips:
- Eliminate any tripping hazards.
- Tape rugs to ensure all corners are trip free, or eliminate loose rugs from the space.
- Make sure items are in reach and accessible for the senior.
- An elevated toilet seat will eliminate the difficulties of lowering oneself onto a low toilet and difficulties standing upright from the low toilet seat. An elevated toilet seat will be more accessible due to its higher level.
Falls are extremely frequent and can be dangerous. If seniors do not receive enough nutrients, their bodies won’t be able to repair tissues and grow. The right diet, such as protein, vitamin D, and calcium can help lower the risk of falls, and brain games are wonderful for staying engaged mentally. Vitamins A, C, and E are beneficial for eye health. Lacking these vitamins can lead to vision impairment that will result in poor balance and confusion. In addition, our sense of thirst declines as we age. It is important for seniors to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration that could lead to confusion, delirium, and hypotension. A nutritious diet is going to keep the senior healthy and help reduce the risk of falls.
This year has been very challenging for both seniors and caregivers. As we continue to care for those who need it the most, we are being very mindful about senior safety. Following these guidelines will help increase awareness for fall prevention planning for next year.
Promoting social interaction for seniors is important to help them stay engaged and involved. Exercise can be a great social activity that can help with fall prevention too. A great way to prevent falls is by doing exercises that encourage balance, flexibility, and strength. Doing these exercises can even help to reduce injuries after falls happen.
Sit to stand exercise– sit down in a sturdy and stable chair with arms. In a standing position, reach back to the armrests to use for support, and slowly sit down in the chair. Once seated, use both arms and legs, pushing down on armrests together to stand up.
Side leg raise– hold on to a sturdy chair back. Stand with good posture, and raise your leg out to the side. Keep the toes pointed straight ahead towards the chair.
Back leg raise– hold on to a sturdy chair back. Stand with good posture, and raise your leg straight behind your body keeping the leg straight.
Toe to heel– hold on to a sturdy chair. Stand with good posture, and rise up on toes with heels in the air. Then lower feet flat on the floor, rocking back on heels to lift toes into air.
Side twist– stand with two chairs that are the same height on each side of the body. Place feet about shoulder width apart. Turn using the entire upper body and head, and touch the chair on one side, and then turn and touch the chair on the other side.
Since falls are common, it is important to take measures to reduce the risk. For help with fall prevention planning at home, contact the experts at AnswerCare. Our compassionate caregivers also can help older adults perform daily tasks safely in the comfort of home. To learn more about our professional home care in Canton, OH and the surrounding areas, contact us online, or call 1.855.213.1511.