Category Archives: Elderly Fall Prevention

Elderly Fall Prevention Tips to Keep Aging Parents Safe

Elderly fall prevention is a top safety concern for aging parents for a good reason. According to The Centers for Disease Control, one out of three adults age 65 years and older falls each year. Even more frightening: Falls are the leading cause of injury death for older adults and the death rates have been rising.

Unfortunately, when it comes to falls and the elderly, the saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” doesn’t apply. Even non-fatal falls can have devastating life-changing consequences. Broken arms, legs, and backs are common, as are hip fractures and head injuries.

And the older you are, the more severe those consequences become. According to the CDC, “Adults age 75 and older who fall are four to five times more likely than those age 65 to 74 to be admitted to a long-term care facility for a year or longer.”

With those kind of cheerful statistics, it’s not surprising that elderly fall victims are often terrified of falling again. That’s understandable. But for many older adults, the fear of falling becomes a phobia that actually INCREASES their risk of falling.

Part of the reason may be psychological. Recent studies indicate that anticipating a fall may help precipitate a fall. But the main reason is that fear of falling can lead to reduced physical activity and fitness…which leads to weaker muscles and impaired balance…which is a recipe for more falls.

IMPORTANT: If you’re concerned that your aging parent or loved one may be risking serious injury due to a fall, you’re not alone. But don’t expect them to let you know they’re having trouble staying on their feet. Many older adults don’t tell their family or their doctors about balance problems because they are embarrassed or fear losing their independence as much as they fear falling.

But suffering falls in silence is dangerous — a point that senior health and home care columnist Sara-Lynn Reynolds recently made in an excellent opinion piece for the Foxborough Patch:

If you you begin to recognize that you are at risk of falling, it is time to be pro-active – denial is not helpful.  Do not let someone insist you are ‘just getting old’. Go for a ‘fall risk assessment’ at your local Physical Therapist office. Learn what they have to offer. They will help correct your posture and strengthen (with proper therapy) your muscles in no time. Frailty is not your friend.  If you are living alone, (or know of someone who is) and find yourself or them being inactive, know that inactivity DOES accelerate the loss of muscle, strength and balance and you will be at a higher risk for a fracture if you do fall…which equals possible nursing home care.

I understand that the body does not do what it used to (mine doesn’t either). I understand being on a fixed budget. I understand not wanting to exercise. However, we have to keep moving. And although canes are good to pirouette around and a walker is a good assistive device, it is important to realize that physical activity is the “key” to maintaining or restoring our bodies to an improved physical state which in turn will stimulate our brains and restore our confidence and desire to get out and live a more active and productive life for the time available to us.

Read the full article here.

For more information about how to keep your aging parent or loved one safe from serious falls, check out these elderly fall prevention tips from the Mayo Clinic.

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Senior Fall Prevention: Reporting Dizziness Key to Safe Aging at Home

According to the Centers for Disease Control, falls are the number one cause of death caused by injury for Americans over the age of 65. One reason is because falls are so commonplace: the CDC estimates that one in three older adults suffers a fall every year.

But another reason is that seniors are often reluctant to tell a doctor or a family member that they are having balance problems or dizzy spells. And that’s a huge problem…

…the hesitancy of some seniors can frustrate family members and medical professionals and compound an already serious problem. ”I think it’s more (about) that fear of progressing into a different stage of my life… They feel that their independence might be robbed if they self-report.”

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The irony is that NOT reporting past falls, balance problems, or dizziness is often a faster route to losing independence, sometimes permanently.

That’s because a bad fall for an older person can easily lead to a prolonged hospital stay and rehab. And depending on the severity of injury and degree of recovery, there’s no guarantee that an elderly fall victim will ever return to the same level of pre-fall mobility or independence.

Take fall prevention seriously. Get rid of obvious trip hazards such as clutter and throw rugs. Use a non-slip bathmat and install grab bars in the tub and shower. Get your eyes checked regularly. And insist your doctor review ALL you medications to avoid interactions that can cause dizziness.

Click here for the CDC’s Home Fall Prevention Checklist for Older Adults.

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Bathroom Safety Makeover Tips for Older Adults

Want to age at home safely? It’s time for a bathroom SAFETY makeover. The bathroom is one of the top locations for serious falls among older adults — the kind of accidents that make it much more difficult for independent-minded seniors to continue living independently.

Along with adding grab bars to the shower or tub, replace that old shower valve with a new “scald-proof” model…

Scalding is one of the most serious bath injuries and can be avoided by one of the pressure and temperature-balanced shower valves available today. You’ll render the flush toilet/scorch bather syndrome obsolete, so everyone wins.

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For more bathroom safety makeover tips for older adults, check out this excellent article from Certified Aging in Place Specialist Jamie Goldberg.

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Medication Reviews Aid Elderly Fall Prevention

According to the Center for Disease Control, one older adult dies from a fall-related injury every 35 minutes. That’s just about all the statistical evidence anyone should need to take elderly fall prevention seriously. And yet, according to a recent article in the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants…

Despite the consequences of falls and their preventability, fall risk assessment remains largely ignored by health care providers. A 2003 survey of older US adults indicated that only 37% of them were asked about falls during routine office visits.

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Medication reviews during regular doctor visits can help your doctor assess and modify prescriptions that may increase your risk for falling. Has your doctor reviewed your meds to assess side effects that may cause you to fall? If not, ask!

You can see the JAAPA article about the importance of medication reviews here. And while you’re at it, print out a copy for your doc, too.

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Personal Alert Systems: Simple, Effective Technology for Aging at Home Safely

You’ve seen the commercials on television for decades now: An elderly woman is on the floor in her kitchen or bathroom. She’s in pain — and all alone. “Help,” she cries. “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

Of course, this iconic commercial is for a well-known brand of personal medical alarm. And although the line itself has become a popular culture punch line, the fact is that personal alert systems are popular because they do one job and do it well…

A solution for the multitude of seniors who need some way to summon emergency help, but don’t want or need a constant “nanny,” may be a personal medical alarm. Personal medical alarms are likely the oldest form of home monitoring technology.

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Perhaps no technology has done more to allow older adults to age at home safely and independently than the personal alert system. If you’re in trouble, you just push a button and a dispatcher notifies a designated contact person.

Today the idea behind personal alarms for the elderly has evolved into monitoring systems for the entire home. These sophisticated systems use various combinations of cameras, motion sensors, and connected devices to track an eldrely person’s every move — from getting in and out of bed, to using the toilet, to taking medication on time. These comprehensive systems may make the most sense for seniors who suffer from dementia or who might forget to push a button.

Click here for helpful information about choosing the right personal alert montoring systems for yourself or an elderly parent or loved one.

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