February 13, 2017

Small Falls Can Make a Big Impact

Falls are the number one cause of accidents in people over the age of 65. The effects of falls can be quite serious, often resulting in bodily injury or even accidental death. Many people believe that the strong and healthy are not at risk for a fall, but in reality, this is not true. Older people in great shape are also at risk for a fall. The bottom line: falls are a very real threat to a senior’s ability to live independently.

Causes of Falls

Most falls are caused by a combination of risk factors. As the number of risk factors rise, so does the risk of falling. Below are the most common risk factors that contribute to falls in those over 65:

  • Normal changes associated with aging
    • Poor eyesight and hearing can make a person more likely to experience a fall
  • Physical conditions or illnesses
    • A recent injury, vitamin deficiency, or long-term illness can affect strength and balance, increasing the risk for a fall
  • Side effects of medications
    • A change in medication or taking multiple medications has been known to cause disorientation, increasing the likelihood of a fall
  • Home situation
    • Poor lighting, throw rugs, broken stairs and small clutter are common household hazards that contribute to falls

Preventing Falls

Step 1—Check your home.

    • Inspect all lighting in the home and replace any burnt bulbs. Install night lights in the hallways, bathrooms, kitchen and stairways
    • Remove any throw rugs and clutter and tack down all carpet edges
    • Install grab bars in the bathroom and ensure there are handrails on all stairways

Step 2—See your doctor.

    • Have your doctor perform a physical and check your eyesight, hearing, balance and feet
    • Be sure to inform your doctor of any recent illnesses or side effects from medications

Step 3—Keep your body in good shape.

    • Get regular exercise, especially walking, and wear appropriate clothing and footwear
    • Do strengthening exercises to strengthen muscles used for walking and lifting
    • Limit alcohol consumption

Older people with limited mobility should ask their family to help inspect their home. This is an excellent preventative strategy. Families should also look out for changes in their loved one’s health, medications, strength and balance – all of which can be early signs of high risk factors. Keep in mind that remaining alert and aware can reduces a person’s risk for a fall. To learn more about fall prevention, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html

This blog is courtesy of Deb Fichera, Resident Care Director at the Harriett and Ralph Kaplan Estates in Peabody, MA.