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5 Tips to Prevent Falls

5 Tips to Prevent Falls

September 25, 2020

This week is “Falls Prevention Awareness Week.” Though we believe that fall prevention must be practiced every day, this is a good opportunity for us to share our passion with all of you.

Before we dive into different fall prevention tactics, I would like to paint a picture of how detrimental they are to the senior population.

According to Daily Caring, 1 Seniors aged 65+ have a greater than 25% chance of falling. If they fall once, they then have a 50% chance of a second fall. Falls are serious for seniors as they are not always able to fully recover from the trauma. Their overall health could decline and their independence lowers significantly.

Count to 11 – 2Every 11 seconds a senior is being treated in an emergency room for a fall-related injury. 3Every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.  As we have stated in a previous blog post, if falls were a plague, we would be taking them more seriously and they would be considered a national health crisis. The number of seniors falling in the U.S. – evidenced from the statistics above – are alarming and need to be prevented.

Though we cannot completely eradicate falls, we can do our best to create a preventative plan. If we could even prevent 10% of all falls, we could save the healthcare system over $5 billion a year and keep more people safe in their homes.

Here are 5 fall prevention tips that you may want to consider for your elderly loved one.

Medication Management

It’s necessary for many seniors to take daily medication, but a combination of medications or a strong negative reaction could affect one’s balance. If your loved one is on a new medication and they seem to be slightly off balance, it does not hurt to reach out to their doctor and see if the medication may be the problem. Keep a close eye when they receive a new prescription and always read the side effect labels on the container. Make sure to keep a list of all the medications that are being taken, including over the counter and supplements. This keeps all the information easily accessible in case dizziness or loss of balance occurs.

Medication Management

It’s necessary for many seniors to take daily medication, but a combination of medications or a strong negative reaction could affect one’s balance. If your loved one is on a new medication and they seem to be slightly off balance, it does not hurt to reach out to their doctor and see if the medication may be the problem. Keep a close eye when they receive a new prescription and always read the side effect labels on the container. Make sure to keep a list of all the medications that are being taken, including over the counter and supplements. This keeps all the information easily accessible in case dizziness or loss of balance occurs.

More Walking and Exercise

 “Walking is man’s best medicine,” is a quote by Hippocrates that we have used since the founding of WalkWise. When you do not use the muscles that improve gait and balance, you lose them. There are many exercise routines for seniors that include props like chairs, walkers, and other devices to make these activities less challenging. Doing roughly 20 to 30 minutes of exercise a day can drastically improve one’s overall balance. The benefits of exercise are not solely physical, but also promote mental wellness.

Use Assistive Devices

As mentioned, once a senior has fallen, they have a 50% higher chance of falling a second time. This is an opportune time to talk about using a walker. Effective use of a walker is a proven way to prevent falls. The most important thing to remember about assistive devices is they must be utilized. They cannot help if they are sitting in the corner. Our device, the smart walker attachment, allows one to see the daily activity of the walker user. If you see big gaps in activity, make sure to have a conversation about the benefits of using the walker and how it promotes overall independence. 

Use Assistive Devices

As mentioned, once a senior has fallen, they have a 50% higher chance of falling a second time. This is an opportune time to talk about using a walker. Effective use of a walker is a proven way to prevent falls. The most important thing to remember about assistive devices is they must be utilized. They cannot help if they are sitting in the corner. Our device, the smart walker attachment, allows one to see the daily activity of the walker user. If you see big gaps in activity, make sure to have a conversation about the benefits of using the walker and how it promotes overall independence. 

Modify and Clean the Home

Rugs, extension cords, and other knick knacks could be a tripping hazard. Make sure to create clear pathways in the home. This is especially important between the bedroom and bathroom. One simple way to modify the home is to add motion-activated night lights. These lights will help guide a senior to and from the bathroom, kitchen, or bedroom at night. Install grab bars in the bathroom and consider adding a shower chair. Finally, try rearranging the most used items in the kitchen to a lower more accessible height. This allows your loved one to reach them without the need of a step stool.

Keep Family Members Informed

One of the most important fall prevention tactics is simply to keep family members informed. Sometimes primary caregivers are not always able to be around, so others may need to fill in the gaps. Create a list of all safety precautions, medications, and the assistive devices that may need to be used and make sure the list is in an easily accessible place. I recommend having it on the refrigerator and saved in a Google doc. Now, it can be referenced at any time if there are any questions.

Fall prevention must be practiced every day. All too often, when a fall prevention plan is not executed there are consequences. Regularly follow these tips to help limit the potential for serious falls that may result in hospitalization. 

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