Susceptibility to falls increases with age. Every senior and every person caring for a senior must have a keen awareness of this as the leading cause of injury for this age group. This one type of injury is responsible for a large number of seniors losing both mobility and independence. Post-menopausal women with osteoporosis must take extra care in fall prevention because of the danger of broken bones due to decreased bone density. Studies show if you have fallen, it is very likely for it to happen again in the next six months.
When considering fall prevention measures for seniors, take into account medication, exercise regimen, and environmental factors. When visiting the doctor, ask about health issues that may increase the likelihood of taking a spill. Is there an underlying physical problem with vision, or in the ear? Do any of the prescriptions the senior is taking inhibit balance? If so, can the doctor adjust the dose?
Is lack of exercise a contributing factor? All the current medical knowledge on the subject points to the fact that active seniors are a lot less likely to fall than those who don’t get any exercise. Doctors recommend gentle workouts such as water exercises in a pool, tai chi (because of its slow graceful movement), or just walking. But the particulars are not so important; what’s key is to stay active and keep moving.
Also look at trip hazards around the home or apartment. Some tips for making a residence a safer place for seniors include:
- Moving tables and furniture out of high traffic areas to keep travel areas free of obstructions.
- Securing throw rugs or taking them up if that’s not possible.
- Making sure walkways are properly lit (this will especially help those with vision impairments).
- Adding non-skid mats to bathrooms and bathtubs, along with hand rails.
- Buying a raised toilet seat with hand rails.
- Installing grip rails where they’re needed.
- Insuring that there is room for the use of mobility aids such as a walker.
Increasing the safety of the yard or immediate surroundings can be a little more difficult. Outside walkways need to be kept free of debris, and you should also fix breaks or cracks that may not be seen by someone who is vision impaired. Shrubbery should be kept trimmed and off the walkway.
An occupational therapist can help identify additional fall prevention measures you can take. Making big changes may be expensive and require professional installation, but remember that this is an investment in independence. Anyone who is no longer mobile will tell you that that’s a priceless benefit.