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Be Proactive – In-Home Fall Detection Tips for Seniors and Caregivers
Among older adults, falls are the number one cause of injury and more than 90% of hip injuries in older adults are due to falling. You don’t have to allow the fear of falling to rule your life; follow these fall prevention tips to reduce the risk and fear.
Falling and Getting Up
Many elderly people who fall do not sustain any injuries, however even if they are not injured in a fall, they can still be at risk. Almost half of seniors who fall, but are not injured, are not able to get up without assistance. The amount of time spent on the floor, immobile, can have serious ramifications on overall health. Muscle cells begin to break down after just half an hour to one hour of compression caused by a fall. Other complications, such as pressure sores, dehydration, hypothermia, and pneumonia can also occur. A person’s chance of survival after an immobilizing fall improves by more than 80% when they get help very soon after the fall. The likelihood that they will return to independent living also dramatically increases.
Know the Fall Risk Factors
There are many risk factors that can contribute to a fall. Including:
- Gait abnormality
- Hearing impairment
- Vision loss
- Blood pressure fluctuations
- Cardiac arrhythmias
- Neurological conditions
- Prescription medications
Aging increases your risk factor for falling - as eyesight, strength, and balance are all negatively impacted. The ability to react quickly to one's environment is greatly diminished. Often older people become sedentary, and this lack of exercise results in a loss of coordination, poor balance, and decreased muscle and bone strength.
Insufficient water intake is another risk factor, as is a poor diet and drinking alcohol.
In the home, falls can be caused by cluttered walkways, footwear that doesn’t fit or is not secure on the foot, poor lighting, and surfaces that are wet and slippery. These factors are avoidable with a conscious effort toward fall prevention.
Talk to Your Doctor
Discuss what prescription medications you are taking, as well as any over-the-counter medications. Your doctor can help you identify any medication that may contribute to an increased fall risk. Be sure to talk to your doctor about any previous falls, including details about the factors that contributed to your fall. Finally, discuss any health conditions that can increase your overall fall risk.
Physical activity helps to strengthen your bones and muscles, improving your balance. If you want to prevent falls, the best preventative measure is to get out and start moving. Talk to your doctor about a fitness program that is appropriate for you.
Wear Appropriate Shoes
The correct shoes can help keep you from falling. Your footwear plays a large part in keeping you upright. Steer clear of shoes with slick soles, bedroom slippers that fit loosely, and high heels. These shoes can cause you to stumble, slip, and fall. Choose sturdy shoes that are properly fitted and have nonskid soles.
Get Rid of the Clutter
Remove anything that is lying in walkways and move furniture away from areas that are heavily traveled. Use slip resistant backing, tacks, or double-faced tape on rugs to keep them from slipping. Stay on top of any repairs needed for the carpet and floorboards - leaving no area with loose flooring. If you spill it, clean it up immediately. Adequate lighting is another excellent fall prevention tactic. Our recent article on how to conduct a home safety assessment for seniors provides additional ways to protect the elderly from falls.
Manage Your Fall Risk
Many medical alert systems feature fall detection technology. Whether you have experienced a fall or not, if you spend any time alone a medical alert device is the ultimate in safety and protection. One option is the GreatCall Splash medical alert device ; it offers fall detection and is waterproof so it can be worn in the shower or bath.
Other risk management options are:
- Installing handrails on both sides of the stairway
- Install bars in the tub/shower area
Take the time to walk around your home and look for areas that may not be as safe as they could be. Then take steps to make sure your area is safer.
Follow these tips and you will be well on your way to preventing falls! As the saying goes: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.