Do you fear falling? Do you believe your loved one is at risk of falling and don't know what to do? We're here to help you.
Your fear of falling is well grounded. A dazzling 1 in 4 seniors will fall this year. A full 2.4 million seniors will be treated in emergency rooms for head injuries, hip fractures and broken bones due to falls in one year alone!
The worst part is, that once someone has fallen, they often limit their activity and suffer from further mental and physical decline, accelerating dependency and isolation.
So we're here to help you identify the most common causes of falling and discuss how you can address some of those risks.
5 Causes of Seniors Falling
The environment you live in is the #1 cause of falling. Many seniors live in homes that are no longer ideal for the elderly. Examples of dangerous environments for seniors include poorly lit hallways, slippery bathtubs, high mattresses, steep stairs, clutter, etc...
Solution: Do a safety assessment of the home. Specifically, see if you can add lighting, tackiness to bathtub and shower floors, grab bars in bathrooms, railings in stairways, remove area and throw rugs, get proper footwear without raised heals.
Seniors often suffer from declining vision at a rapid pace. Whether it's macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataract or diabetic retinopathy, loss of vision makes it harder for seniors to see tripping obstacles, contrasting edges and changes in height and depth.
Solution: Get your vision checked every year. Make sure prescriptions are current and that eye glasses are readily available. Be extra careful with bifocals on stairs and tint changing glasses in changing light conditions.
3. Muscle Weakness & Balance
Aging contributes to declining muscle strength, coordination and flexibility - all of which contributes to an increased risk of falling. This is especially true if you are relatively sedentary. But it doesn't have to be that way. There are a ton of things you can do to improve your physical well being, no matter your current condition.
Solution: Keep in shape! Stay fit by walking, exercising, or playing sports. You can also do specific exercises to improve your strength and balance.
4. Medication Use
While many medications are absolutely necessary, some can cause drowsiness, dizziness or confusion. Moreover, some drugs when mixed with other medications or foods can cause similar symptoms. Take the correct medications at the right times is also an issue that can cause unintended side affects.
Solution: If you feel any type of drowsiness or dizziness on your medications, discuss your symptoms with your doctor and review potential solutions. Furthermore, discuss known side effects of your medications before taking them, so you understand what you can, or cannot, do while on them. Lastly, to help you take the right medications, in the right dosages at the right time consider medication reminders.
5. Health Conditions
According to the National Council on Aging, 90% of seniors suffer from at least one chronic health condition like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes or arthritis. Each of the conditions can increase your risk of falling either due to a sudden loss of control as in the case of standing up too quickly with high blood pressure, or inability to control ones muscles well as in the case of holding on to a grab bar with arthritis.
Solution: Understand the potential risks of your condition, and which circumstances and environments presents the most risk of causing a fall. Sometimes, it's simply unavoidable. In that case you might want to consider comparing medical alert systems that can help get emergency responders to you as quickly as possible, once a fall has taken place.
While falling will always remain a key risk to healthy aging, there are many ways to significantly reduce the chance of a fall that are within your control. Learn the most common causes of falling so you can address those risks in your environment and stay on your feet where you belong!