Falls are a common and serious issue for senior citizens ages 65 and older. According to the CDC, around 36 million falls are reported each year. One in five of these falls results in an injury. These injuries can be serious and lead to decreased mobility and quality of life. Let’s take a closer look at the importance of fall prevention for seniors.
Factors that Contribute to Falls
As we age, our bodies undergo changes that increase the risk of falling. The first of these is weakness and muscle loss. This makes it more difficult to maintain your balance and coordination. Another factor is poor vision which can cause you to not see clearly. Unfortunately, this can lead to accidents that can cause you to fall.
Chronic conditions, like arthritis and Parkinson’s disease, and other neurological disorders, can also make you more vulnerable to falls. Another factor is medications and their side effects can contribute to falls. This is because some medications cause drowsiness, dizziness, and even confusion. When you go through extensive medical treatments or procedures, you may find that your mobility decreases which can cause you to be more unstable.
Another huge factor in falls is the environment in which you live. Uneven flooring, poor lighting, and cluttered spaces all increase your risk of falling down. In addition, poorly designed homes and outdoor spaces can make it difficult for you to navigate and could cause you to fall.
The bathroom can be a particularly hazardous environment for seniors, as it is often small and contains a variety of slippery surfaces and hard edges. Some common factors that contribute to falls in the bathroom include:
- Wet floors: Water and other liquids on the bathroom floor can make it slippery and increase the risk of falls.
- Lack of support: Without grab bars or handrails, it can be difficult for seniors to maintain their balance and stability in the bathroom.
- Steep tubs and showers: Steep tubs and showers can be difficult to enter and exit, increasing the risk of falls.
Consequences of Falls in Seniors
Unfortunately, falls can cause you lots of problems. A serious fall can lead to broken bones or a head injury. Aside from the pain they cause, they can also reduce your mobility and independence. In some cases, falls can even lead to death.
The fear of falling sometimes leads to decreased confidence and increased anxiety about what could happen if you fall. This can further reduce your mobility and independence. Sadly, for some it causes them to be too afraid to leave their homes or participate in different activities.
The cost of medical care for falls is significant. This is because sometimes a fall may call for a hospital stay, rehabilitation, and long-term care expenses. Falls can also lead to a reduced quality of life. Unfortunately, some seniors have to give up activities they once enjoyed and may become more reliant on others for assistance.
Strategies for Fall Prevention in Seniors
You’re probably wondering what are some good ways to help prevent falls. Here are a few tips for you!
Regular exercise and physical activity can help improve your strength, balance, and coordination. This can help reduce your risk factors for falling. Strengthening and balance exercises, like weight lifting and yoga, can improve your overall health as well as tighten up your balance. Tai Chi is another effective form of exercise for fall prevention, as it combines both movement and breathing to improve your balance.
Making changes to your home environment can also help reduce your chance of falling. Installing grab bars or handrails in your bathroom and along stairways provide you with support and stability. You can also improve the lighting in your home by adding more lamps or overhead lights. This will help you see obstacles so you can avoid a fall. Additionally, you will want to remove tripping hazards like loose rugs and electrical cords. If home modifications seem like a big job for you, ask some family members to help you make your home safer.
Another strategy to help lower your fall risk is to review your medications with your doctor. This will help them identify any medications that may increase your risk of falling. Avoiding combinations of medications that have side effects that increase the risk of falls, such as drowsiness or dizziness, can lower your risk of falling. It is important to note that you should not change your medications unless your doctor has instructed you to do so.
Communication with Healthcare Providers
Regular check-ups with a healthcare provider can help them identify any changes in your health and mobility that may increase your risk of falls. It is important for you to note any changes in your health and mobility. This would include dizziness or balance issues. Reporting this will help your healthcare provider decide on the appropriate care and support you need.
It is important for you to take responsibility and the steps necessary to reduce your risk of falling. Families and caregivers can also play a role by supporting you in your efforts and even advocating for your safety and well-being. Your healthcare provider can provide you with guidance and resources to help older adults with fall prevention. By working together, we can ensure that senior citizens can live their lives with dignity, independence, and safety.
We Want to Help You!
At Greenbrook Medical, we believe that every senior citizen should be cared for and treated with respect. That’s why we have made it our mission to provide the best possible care for our patients. Contact us today for a consultation or to request an appointment with one of our geriatric doctors.