Seniors' Fall Protection
We all fall at some point, but with seniors, falls are a leading cause of hospitalization in British Columbia. One in three seniors will fall at least one time per year and, as such, is one of the main reasons why older adults lose their independence. Although the risk factors increase with age, falls are not an inevitable part of ageing. There are many factors to consider in Seniors' Fall Protection. In this post, we discuss two of them.
The natural ageing process often places older adults at an increased risk of having a fall. Chronic Health Conditions such as dementia, heart disease, low blood pressure, Diabetes and limited mobility are just some conditions that can cause dizziness, poor vision, reduced muscle strength and ataxia. Medications can also increase the chances of a fall due to the potential side effects. Dizziness, blurred vision and drowsiness are just a few of the side effects of some medications.
Studies have shown that, on average, 50 to 60 percent of falls occur within the home. Environmental factors can be hazards at home such as loose rugs, lack of grab bars in the bathroom, lack of stair railings, poor lighting, extension cords, wet or waxed flooring and overall clutter.
Some Key Ways to Prevent Falls
Eliminating the factors that contribute to trips and falls are distinct ways that can help, but how can we do that?
Clean up the clutter: One of the easiest methods for preventing falls is to keep your home neat and tidy. Start by keeping entries and hallways clear of shoes and debris.
Remove or fix tripping hazards by examining every room and hallway, looking for items such as loose carpets, cords, slippery throw rugs, or wood floorboards that stick up. Then repair, remove or replace those items for more effective fall prevention.
Make the tub non-slip: using a bath mat with grab bars in the bathtub when showering or bathing can significantly reduce the risk of a fall. An important thing to remember that cheaper bath mats can come loose. Get a good quality mat that will stay in place. If you are not sure which mat to get, seek some advice from a medical professional.
Grab bars and handrails: These safety devices are critical for going up and down the stairs, getting in and out of the tub & getting on and off the toilet without injuring yourself. Ensure that a qualified installer correctly installs these devices.
Avoid wearing loose clothing: We all want to feel comfortable at home, but baggy clothing or clothing that is too large can significantly increase your odds of taking a tumble. Not only can you trip on a pair of un-hemmed pants but baggy clothing snags easily on furniture, cupboards or drawers.
Light it right: Inadequate lighting is another significant hazard. To create a home that's more suitable for the elderly, install brighter light bulbs where needed, particularly in stairways and narrow hallways. Consider night lights or smart lights in bedrooms and hallways for better guidance at night.
Footwear: Socks are comfy, but they do present a slipping risk on smooth surfaces such as hardwood or lino flooring. Alternatively, consider wearing non slip shoes or pick up a few pairs of non-slip socks. These socks can be very comfy and have grippy bottoms.
Live on a single level: Even with precautions like guardrails, stairs can present a significant falling hazard. If possible, consider living on one level. If this is not possible, consider getting a stairlift installed by a professional installer or limit the number of trips you take up and down the stairs.
Pause: Take your time when moving around. Many falls happen at home by moving too quickly from a sitting or standing position. Whether you are going up the stairs or heading to the bathroom, pause for a second or two, get set and then proceed.
Exercise: Regular exercise at any level can help improve or maintain mobility and agility.
In addition to getting out for a walk consider some light upper body & abdominal resistant training to help you in case of a fall.
Usually when we fall, we rely on safe landing responses such as reaching out with our hands that can protect ourselves from head injuries. As we age, the natural reaction of putting our hands out may not be as effective due to reduced strength.
Always seek a doctors advice before starting any exercise program.
Communicate with your doctor: Review your medications with your doctor, especially ones that cause dizziness, blurred vision or sleepiness. Never be afraid to ask if reducing the dosage is an option or if there a solution with fewer side effects.
Never be afraid to ask for help: we all need a little help here and there. From getting out of bed & going up the stairs to going to bathroom and everything in between never be afraid to ask for help. Family caregivers, medical professionals, family members, friends, neighbours and professional caregivers are just some of the great resources for daily help or advice to help prevent you from falling.
From North and West Vancouver to Squamish and Whistler, Lions Gate Home Care will be there where and when you need us most. If you have any questions about fall protection for seniors or would like a free in home health assessment, feel free to call our 24/7 care line at (604) 980- 6350
This post was a collaborative effort with our good friends at Pacific Home Health Services