Category Archives: Senior 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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Safe Hospital Stay Tips for Seniors

Hospitals can be dangerous places for seniors. But there are things you can do to make your stay — or your aging parent’s stay — safer.

One of the most critical hospital safety tips: Ask a family member or trusted friend to serve as your advocate…

Keep a notebook and have your advocate record the names of all the doctors involved in your care and what they said. Make sure you understand your diagnosis and treatment plan. Write down questions you want to ask a doctor in between visits.

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Other hospital safety tips for seniors include:

Be prepared: Bring your medical history and a complete list of all the medications and supplements you take with you. Record the name and dose of any new prescriptions you are given. Remember to take your glasses and hearing aids.

Be smart: If you’re supposed to stay in bed, don’t try to get up without help. A lot of prideful older hospital patients make things much worse when they fall trying to make it to the bathroom alone.

Ask questions: If you don’t know why you’re taking a medication, ask. If you don’t know why you are being examined, or by whom, ask. Write down questions for the doctor or nurse in your notebook so you won’t forget. If you can’t ask, have your advocate get the answers for you.

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Aging Parent Rx Drug Safety Tip: Work with Primary Care Physician

Concerned about the sheer number of prescription meds your aging parent is taking? You should be. It’s all too easy for an elderly person’s medicine cabinet to turn into a drug store as they age.

And it can be dangerous — especially if meds prescribed by different specialists are redundant or create unintended side effects when combined. Dizziness, for instance, can lead to serious fall-related injuries.

Your parent’s primary care physician should be able to help with this challenge:

These doctors can best monitor the broad array of conditions and subspecialists their patients may be dealing with. You don’t want too many people making medical decisions and changing medications and dosages—so make sure mom or dad has a single provider who’s actively coordinating their care.

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When the time comes for you to take a more active role in your aging parent’s health, start by meeting with your parent and their doctor during an office visit. Ask the doctor to review your parent’s medications for safety. And while you’re at it, make a mental note about the quality of the doctor/patient relationship. Does your parent’s doctor take time to listen? Does he or she answer questions from you or your parent clearly or impatiently?

If your parent’s primary care physician isn’t willing to take charge, seriously consider finding a doctor who will. As your parent ages and faces new health challenges, you need team players who are eager to get in the game — not sit on the sidelines.

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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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Home Modifications Help Elderly Age at Home Safely

If you’d like to grow old at home, you’re not alone. Most older adults want to live independently for as long as possible. The problem is that most homes aren’t set up to keep older adults safe as they age.

Research by the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that home modification and repairs may prevent 30-50% of all home accidents among seniors, including falls.

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Need to make your home safer for yourself or an aging parent? Check out these FAQs from the National Resource Center for Supportive Housing and Home Modifications.

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