Preventing Falls in Older Adults

02-01-2018The Well

“Even to your old age, I am He, and to gray hairs I will carry you…” (Isaiah 46:4)

Facts about Falls

During the Winter season when there is sleek sidewalks and driveways, we would expect an increased risk for falls, but for seniors, it’s the inside of their homes that can be downright dangerous. Falls are very common and often preventable. Falls are the #1 cause of death due to injury for people age 65 and older.

Seniors are at greater risk for falls due to health problems and physical hazards, such as throw rugs.

Falls can have serious results:

  • Falls can cause serious injuries such as bone fractures (hip, pelvis, spine) and brain trauma.
  • Falls can lower seniors’ quality of life such as feeling afraid of falling again, avoiding exercise and social activities and becoming isolated and depressed.
  • Falls can create financial loss such as lengthy hospital stays and rehabilitative expenses.
  • Falling makes you more likely to fall again because after a fall, a person’s risk for future falls increases; usually this is due to avoiding exercise to be “safe.” However, being inactive actually increase the risk of falling.

Risk Factors:

  • Environmental risk factors such as certain medications (i.e. diuretics or tranquilizers), hazards that can cause tripping, slippery or uneven flooring, poor lighting, walking in socks or ill-fitting shoes.
  • Personal risk factors such as having a history of falls, being age 65 or older, vision problems (such as changes in depth perception), weak muscles, trouble with balance or posture, urgent toileting needs, trouble remembering or understanding information, dizziness or difficulty walking.

Preventing Falls

  • Make an appointment with your doctor to evaluate your medications and health conditions that may be increasing your risk of falls.
  • Physical activity can go a long way toward fall prevention. With your doctor’s OK, consider activities such as walking, water workouts or simple stretching and strengthening exercises.
  • Wear sensible shoes - High heels, floppy slippers and shoes with slick soles can make you slip, stumble and fall. So can walking in your socks. Your doctor may recommend carefully monitored exercise programs or refer you to a physical therapist. Have your feet measured each time you buy shoes, since foot size can change. Buy properly fitting, sturdy shoes with nonskid soles.
  • Remove home hazards such as boxes, newspaper and electrical cords from walk ways; secure loose rugs with double-faced tape or a slip-resistant backing or remove them; store clothing, dishes, food and other necessities within easy reach; use nonslip mats in your bathtub or shower.
  • Light up your living space to avoid tripping on objects that are hard to see.
  • Use assisting devices such as hand rails for both sides of stairways, nonslip treads for barewood steps, a raised toilet seat or one with armrests, grab bars for the shower or tub, a sturdy plastic seat for the shower or tub plus a hand-held shower nozzle for bathing while sitting down.

(Source: Mayo Clinic)

Some of the suggestions listed above are good common-sense stuff that anyone of any age can implement in their home. If you have an aging parent living alone, these suggestions are a wonderful way to keeping your parent safe from falls.

If you have any questions or concerns about your health, your family’s health, or need a referral,  feel free to contact Kathy Ford RN/Parish Nurse at pastoralcare@hscc.us or 630-544-8687 ext. 28.

BACK TO LIST