It used to not be this way.
How many times have you heard someone say their father or mother was fine before he or she fell? In essence, for many older adults, an unexpected fall can touch off a series of events that end in serious or fatal complications. Unfortunately, it can lead to extended hospital stays and disabling conditions that make living independently more of a challenge. As such, elderly fall prevention is critical.
As we age, we begin to lose our balance. Understandably, the elderly are terribly afraid of falling due to their unsteadiness. Consequently, they tend to view themselves as fragile. Sadly, this is one of the underlying reasons they avoid commonplace activities like walking, shopping and even socializing. Their physical reality combined with their fears often exacerbates their feelings of isolation and depression, all too common in this group.
May be the most serious concern for the elderly.
The National Institute of Health maintains that “falls are the number one cause of fractures, hospital admissions for trauma, loss of independence, and injury deaths” among those 65 and older in the US making fall prevention in the elderly a high priority. Furthermore, the risk only increases as we age with one in five people 85 and older reporting a fall more than once a year compared to one in 10 of those between 65 and 74. Tragically, falls in the elderly are often fatal or have long-term consequences for performing their activities of daily living.
Medication may play a part.
Because the elderly often are on so many medications, patients must be counseled on how to prevent falls in terms of their surroundings and medications. In particular, certain drugs can affect their already compromised sense of balance. They include:
- anti-seizure drugs (anticonvulsants)
- hypertensive (high blood pressure) drugs
- anxiolytics (anti-anxiety drugs)
- aminoglycosides (a type of antibiotic)
- certain analgesics (painkillers)
- certain chemotherapeutics (anti-cancer drugs).
Things you can do.
The National Institute on Aging has a handy tip sheet at Go4Life on preventing falls.
Here are 10 things you can do to prevent falls:
1. Regular exercise
Especially those that work on balance like yoga and tai chi, can help steady the elderly adult as can weight-bearing exercises that slow bone loss and lower-body strengthening exercises.
Where most falls occur while doing mundane tasks is critical. Tripping hazards from carpets, wires, and clutter must be removed. Half of all falls at home happen in the bathroom and a misstep in this room can spell disaster. Grab bars in places like the shower, tub and toilet as well as proper lighting are essential.
3. Make regular eye and hearing check-ups
to ensure properly fitted glasses with the optimal prescription. Wearing bifocals while walking or on steps may blur the vision enough to cause falls. Proper hearing can ensure no cues are missed.
4. Regular dizziness may indicate an underlying medical condition
with respect to blood pressure, circulation, or sensory issues which should be checked out by a physician.
5. Physical therapy
may be useful for improving balance and walking confidence.
6. Have the doctor or pharmacist
review all medications to identify those most likely to cause dizziness and drowsiness.
7. Stand up slowly
from a seated or lying position.
8. Wear rubber soled shoes
to avoid slipping.
9. Limit the amount of alcohol consumed.
10. Lastly, get enough sleep.
Interestingly, Ritalin may help prevent falls. In an encouraging breakthrough, Ben Gurion University researchers have found that a single dose of the drug used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy, helps improve balance during walking reducing the risk of falls among seniors. Researchers admit the results may be due to the improved focus brought about by the medication. However, they also feel that Ritalin actually has a direct influence on parts of the brain that deal with motor and balance control.
Prevention is key.
Nevertheless, a good caregiver can prevent or minimize any negative long-term effects if one does occur. As such, the importance of caregivers being familiar with maintaining safe environments and routines for the elderly cannot be overstated. Moreover, many geriatric social workers and occupational therapists can help set up a safe living space for an elderly person. Luckily, we have a certified professional on staff that can help you with these.
David York Agency Home Healthcare Can Help Elderly Fall Prevention
At David York Home Healthcare Agency, extraordinary service is what sets us apart from other companies that provide in home health care services. At DYA, we could provide direction as to how to manage the total care of your senior loved one. Whatever your care needs, we are there for you, always striving to exceed your expectations. For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at (718) 376-7755. In any event, a free phone consultation can help you determine what services would meet your needs. We aim to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn.
For more helpful tips and information, contact us today.
Anita Kamiel, RN, MPS, is the founder and owner of David York Home Healthcare Agency, licensed by the State of New York. She holds a master’s degree in gerontological administration and is fully acquainted with all factors related to eldercare services and the latest guidelines for seniors. Thirty years ago, she realized the need for affordable, quality home health aide services provided and supervised by caring individuals. You can contact her at 718-376-7755 or at www.davidyorkagency.com. David York Agency is also on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.