One-third of people over the age of 65 falls each year. Sometimes falls result in only minor injuries, like scrapes and bruises. However, they can also cause much more serious injuries, like a broken hip or head injury. Sometimes falls even cause death. Experts have identified several risk factors that can make your elderly parent more likely to fall.
Risk Factors for Falls
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that falls are usually caused by a combination of risk factors. The more risk factors a person has, the higher their chances of falling are. They divide risk factors into two kinds: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic risk factors are those that have to do with health and age. Many of them cannot be changed. Extrinsic risk factors are things in the environment. Most of them are things seniors and their caregivers can change.
Intrinsic risk factors include:
- Getting older
- Weak muscles
- Having fallen before
- Vision problems
- Trouble with gait and/or balance
- Chronic conditions, like arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia
Extrinsic risk factors include:
- Not having handrails on stairways
- Stairs that are uneven or damaged
- No grab bars in the bathroom
- Poor lighting
- Tripping hazards
- Surfaces that are slippery or uneven
- Certain medications
- Not using canes, walkers, or wheelchairs properly
How to Prevent Falling
There are many ways to lower the chances of an older adult falling. Some things that can be done are:
-Strengthen Muscles: Being physically active can help older adults to keep muscles strong. Good exercises for improving muscle strength and balance are weight-bearing exercises, like walking, Tai Chi, and yoga.
-Fall Proof the House: Add handrails on both sides of stairways wherever possible. Install grab bars near the toilet and shower or bath. Remove or secure loose throw rugs. Remove clutter from walkways, such as stacks of magazines, newspapers, or protruding furniture.
-Use Assistive Devices: If your parent is at risk for falling and does not currently use a cane or walker, talk to the doctor about whether they should. Also, make sure they receive training from a physical therapist in how to use the device correctly and safely.
Elderly care can be an important part of keeping your aging parent safe from falls. Elderly care providers can lend support while the senior is walking in the home or in public, offering an arm to lean on. Elderly care providers can also assist with fall-proofing the house by helping to keep it tidy, keeping trip hazards off the floor and cleaning up clutter.