As we age, our bones can become brittle and break more easily. A fall in older adulthood can mean more than just a broken finger or two. A fall can result in major broken bones, such as a fractured hip or a broken back. Head injuries and even fatal injuries aren’t uncommon in the older population after a fall. It is immensely important that we practice fall prevention techniques to avoid any injuries.
Thankfully, falls can be prevented. They are typically caused by factors we can control or watch for, including environment, vision impairment, chronic conditions, medications, and balance.
If you have an aging loved one in your life, start paying attention to any behaviors that may indicate they are struggling. You may see them stumbling or grabbing on to walls or furniture when they walk. Maybe they are grasping onto you. This may be a sign that they are struggling with balance or gait. They can take steps to improve their balance with a physical therapist. It may also be time for a walker or cane.
You may need to be wary of the prescriptions your loved one is taking, especially if they contain muscle relaxers or sleep aids. They may feel dizzy or struggle to find their balance and these can make older adults more likely to fall. An alternative medication may be necessary.
Review their Health Conditions
Check in on your loved one. Do they have health concerns? Are they struggling to complete tasks of daily living like they used to? Are they forgetting things? They may need some extra assistance at home. Perhaps they need someone to help them clean their home or cook meals each week. Maybe they need medication reminders. It’s also important they visit their doctor for preventative care. Talk to them about the seriousness of falling and ask them if they are worried about falling.
If your loved one is struggling with vision loss, they may be frequently losing their balance or stumbling. Make sure they get their prescription regularly checked and renewed as needed.
Check their Home
Your loved one’s home may be full of hazards. Just like you wouldn’t want your grandmother walking outside in an ice storm, you wouldn’t want her walking up her stairs when the banister is loose. Do a check of the home. The railings should be secure, hallways and stairs should be well-lit, and there should be grab bars in the shower/bath or a shower chair should be in use. If you need professional help conducting an inspection to make sure the home is safe, an occupational therapist can help.