Worrying about our aging parents and falls can keep us up at night. We all have heard stories or know someone who’s older parent experienced a life-altering fall. Preventing injury from falls takes understanding the cause and making adjustments as your aging parent becomes more mobility challenged.
According to the CDC about 36 million falls are reported among older adults each year—resulting in more than 32,000 deaths. Each year, about 3 million older adults are treated in emergency departments for a fall injury.
Every second of every day, an older adult (age 65+) suffers a fall in the U.S.—making falls the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in this age group. Depending on the severity of the fall an aging adult’s life may never be the same and they may never fully recover. And once a person has had a fall, they are more likely to fall again. Falls can cause broken bones, like wrist, arm, ankle, and hip fractures or head injuries. Older people are more likely to break bones in falls because many older people have porous, fragile bones.
Yet falls are preventable. “Really understanding the cause is the first step in preventing falls. At Nurses and Company we take an in-depth look at both a person’s health and their environment,” said Angela Robertson, Executive Director. “Many factors can increase the risk of an aging parent falling. Their age, disease, medications combined with their environment can all be contributing factors. The first step is considering all these factors then working toward solutions.”
Nine Steps in Preventing Injury From Falls
– Environment. Since most falls happen at home your aging parent’s environment can be a leading factor in contributing to a potential fall. Ensuring your loved one’s home is free of tripping hazards, well lit and well equipped to help with mobility issues can ensure their safety and prevent falls. In our blog 5 Ways to Keep Aging Parents Independent we offer helpful tips on improving home safety and preventing injury from falls.
-Medications. Certain medications like antidepressants, muscle relaxants, or blood pressure or diabetes medications may cause dizziness or lightheadedness. Understanding your aging parent’s medications and potential side effects can help you navigate issues. Ask their physician for any common side effects you should expect. Strength and balance and strength training exercises can help. Yoga, pilates, and tai chi can improve balance and muscle strength. If needed, suggest the use of a cane or walker.
– Vision and Hearing. Poor vision and diminished hearing can lead to falls. Have your loved one’s vision and hearing checked regularly. Ensure they are wearing their glasses and that hearing aids are working and well fitted.
– Lifestyle. Your aging parent’s lifestyle can also make them more likely to experience falls. Not getting enough sleep and becoming tired will increase their risk. Use of alcohol can lead to balance problems. Taking risks like walking to the mailbox when it’s icy or insisting they can shovel their own driveway after a snowfall will dramatically increase their chance of falling. Encourage them to make smart choices.
– Accepting Assistive Devices. It may be hard for your loved one to accept the need to use a cane or walker. No one wants to admit we are getting older. Help them realize the importance of taking this small step to ensure they can enjoy the days ahead. Explain how an injury from a fall can seriously diminish their lifestyle. Nurses and Company can help determine which devices might be helpful and teach your loved one how to use them safely.
– Foot Wear. Proper footwear is important in reducing the risks of falls. Footwear should be non-skid with rubber-soles and low-heels. Discourage your aging loved ones from walking on stairs or floors in socks or in any footwear including slippers that have smooth soles.
– Simple Steps. Remind your aging parents of taking simple steps like keeping their bones strong to reduce breaks and fractures. Ask their physician about calcium and vitamin D supplements. Help them plan an exercise program that is right for them.
– Take it Slow. If they are prone to dizziness encourage them to get up slowly and not to rush.
– Professional Support. Professional support can be a solution, especially if you are a long distant caregiver or it’s challenging to spend as much time as needed with your parents. Nurses and Company’s Private Services team, powered by Honor, can improve safety and provide support to reduce the risk of falls. Our team can provide risk insights and help with education about assistive devices. We’ll give you peace of mind knowing that your parents have expert care and support when you can’t be there. We know it can be difficult to get your loved one to accept support. Our blog 5 Ways To Keep Aging Parents Independent gives insights and tips to help.
At Nurses & Company, we understand how overwhelming the process of finding the right care for your loved ones can be. Nurses & Company can help. Our friendly staff can help you understand and navigate the best options available to ensure the best support for your aging parent. Even if you are just struggling to know when the right time is, reach out and speak to one of our advanced care planners. We’re here to help you regain peace of mind by helping you understand the options available and when extra support may be the best answer to preserve your loved one’s well-being and independence. Contact us today for a no-obligation assessment of your loved one’s needs.