An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to falling. If you’re not concerned about your older parent falling, perhaps you should be.
- Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injury among older adults.
- 25 percent of Americans over 65 fall each year.
- Older adults may limit their activities for fear of falling, which can reduce fitness levels and cause falling.
Physical factors that may cause a fall in older adults include:
- Loss of coordination, flexibility and balance caused by inactivity
- Slower reaction times that make it difficult to prevent a fall once it’s started
- Vision loss that makes it difficult to see tripping hazards and contrasting edges
- Medication side effects and interactions that cause dizziness
- Chronic conditions, such as arthritis, diabetes, and stroke, that cause loss of coordination, flexibility and balance
Environmental hazards include:
- Weather conditions such as ice or snow
- Home clutter that can cause tripping
- Lack of home modifications, such as handrails, grab bars, and ramps
- Home lighting
- Ill-fitting or badly designed shoes and other clothing
Don’t wait until your parent falls and is injured before you engage in fall prevention.
10 Fall prevention tips:
- If physical factors are a concern, consult your parent’s physician. Could medications be switched out to prevent dizziness? Can medical procedures or medication help with dizziness, lack of coordination, loss of balance or reduction in strength? Does your parent need new glasses?
- Increase your parent’s activity level with an emphasis on exercises that enhance coordination, flexibility, and balance. Get them a membership to the local Y or indoor pool so they can exercise without fear of falling. Exercise with them. Try Tai Chi. Ask your parent’s doctor about physical therapy.
- Assess the home. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s home fall prevention checklist and AARP’s checklist are excellent resources.
- Install safety modifications, such as better lighting, handrails, and grab bars, to make the home safer.
- For outside weather conditions, contract with someone to clear your parent’s driveway and walkway every time it snows. You can also ask them to check on your parent if you are unable to reach them.
- Keep grit or sand near the front door to spread on icy walkways.
- Put handrails alongside steps and sidewalks.
- Make sure the walk leading to their home is even and in good repair.
- Put anti-skid tape on metal or wood steps and decks outside the home.
- Check shoes to ensure they have non-slip soles. Consult an orthopedist if you have a concern.
Safety doesn’t happen by accident. It shouldn’t take an accident to improve your parent’s safety from falls.