12 Jul Preventing Falls In The Elderly
We always think that falls won’t happen to us or those we care about. But, the truth is, more and more people are experiencing pain, discomfort and ailments due to falls around their own home.
For many, living at home independently is an important aspect of getting older. But, without the right support, this is a harder task to complete for many people. Preventing falls in and around the home is one way we can ensure we can continue living independently at home and avoid unnecessary pain and discomfort.
Who is affected by falls at home?
At least one in four older people have a fall each year and over 30% of those who have a fall require medical attention. This is an unnecessary cost to those who experience the falls and the health industry. With our current data and statistics, this number is likely to increase without the right prevention methods.
Risk factors for falls
Although accidents happen and almost anyone can experience a fall in or around the home, some people are more likely to experience a fall. This can include:
- The elderly
- Someone with a history of falls
- Those with muscle weaknesses or stiffening joints
- Those suffering from poor balance
- People with slow reaction times
- Anyone with poor eyesight
- Those with particular medical conditions such as Parkinson’s disease
- People taking certain medications that may affect the brain
- Those who do not complete much physical activity
- Those with loss of feeling or changes in feeling
- Those with low calcium levels
- People with trip hazards around the home such as cables, electrical cords, rugs, etc.
What kinds of injuries can occur from falls?
Falls can cause a variety of injuries or pains. Some people who fall may not experience an injury in the first instance. But, it’s important to address any falls in the home to avoid any future injuries. Depending on the person and how the fall occurs, some people may experience:
- Wrist or hip fractures
- Shoulder and/or hip dislocations
- Abrasions or head injuries
- Sprains or bruising
- Anxiety surrounding the fear of falling again in the future
How can I avoid a fall?
Falls can be prevented. One of the best ways to do so is to lead an active and healthy lifestyle. You may need to discuss your options with your medical practitioner to determine any health issues that you may need to address to reduce your risks of falls. Have a chat with your doctor about staying healthy, managing your medications and ways you can manage any chronic illnesses or symptoms such as dizziness, vertigo and incontinence.
Staying active and ensuring you have the right levels of vitamins and minerals is also helpful. Eat a healthy diet and ensure you stay hydrated throughout the day. You may also seek the help of a therapist who can assess your physical needs and provide you with some guidelines for exercises to complete at home. A specialist such as a myotherapist may also be able to help relieve stress and tension in your muscles to ensure you stay flexible and are able to stay active.
It’s also important to address any safety issues at home. Removing clutter and keeping walkways clear will help reduce the instance of falls at home. Even simple changes such as making sure you have appropriately bright lighting in your home can help you to see any hazards around you. You may also get the assistance of an occupational therapist who may be able to advise you of different ways to reduce fall risks in your home. Even the type of clothing you wear, such as loose, long clothing dragging on the floor, may be a risk for falls.
If you’re concerned about the risk of falls at home or when you’re out in the neighbourhood, have a chat with your medical practitioner who can provide you with practical tips to help reduce your risk of falls. You may also be provided with a referral to another therapist who can also help with improving your muscular dexterity and balance.