Falls among senior citizens are all too frequent and may have serious consequences. If you’re caring for aging parents, taking preventative measures is key, such as examining the home for fall dangers like throw rugs or other tripping hazards, poor lighting, and an absence of appropriate grab bars and railings. But there’s another strategy being suggested now: creating a fall plan of care, which, when implemented correctly, has been shown to cut down on fall-related emergency room visits up to 40%.
So while we definitely do not want to plan for a loved one to fall, we can be better equipped by helping the individual take the following steps:
- Remain vigilant – Avoid letting your mind wander and instead keep your full concentration on your surroundings.
- Check vision – Regular eye exams and constantly wearing eyeglasses if required can ensure tripping hazards are seen and avoided.
- Practice balance – Exercises as basic as lifting one foot off the ground and staying balanced on the other foot for up to 30 seconds often helps.
- If a fall does occur, understanding how to fall more safely can minimize the chance of injury. In particular:
- Avoid head injuries by intentionally turning your face away from the fall, or folding your chin to your chest if falling back.
- Bend the elbows and knees to avoid the rigidity that can trigger a break to the wrist or elbow when trying to catch your fall.
- Roll through the fall, which diffuses the impact of the fall over a larger portion of the body instead of concentrating it on one area.
- Try to land on fatty tissue, such as on your thighs or bottom, rather than on more bony surfaces such as hips, knees, and elbows.
- Using the following proactive measures can also go a long way towards avoiding a fall:
- Be sure that all walking areas both inside and outside of the home are free from clutter and any possible tripping risks, such as extension cords.
- Keep flooring surfaces, particularly in the bathroom and kitchen, clean and dry.
- Install grab bars around the bathtub and toilet.
- Make sure handrails are in place and secure alongside all stairwells.
- Remove and replace any worn carpeting and remove all loose rugs.
At Harmony Home Health & Hospice, we’re experienced in making the home environment as safe and secure from falls as it can be, and we are skilled in providing ambulation help and oversight when needed to help ensure fall risk is reduced. We are also available to engage in physician-approved fitness programs to boost stability and flexibility, resulting in overall improved health.