The Importance of Preventing Falls in the Elderly
As people age, falling becomes more likely to lead to long-term consequences from broken bones or head injuries. For adults over age 65, one in five falls results in serious injury, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is why preventing falls is one of the most proactive things you can do to stay healthy and independent.
The CDC reports that each year, 2.5 million seniors are treated in an emergency room for a fall-related injury. In fact, one in three people over age 65 will experience a fall every year. Unfortunately, after the first fall, chances of falling again double.
Understanding common reasons why older adults can fall can be empowering in preventing such an accident. Most falls occur due to:
- Mobility or balance issues
- Slipping because shoes do not provide enough traction
- Reduced muscle strength and slow reflexes
- Poor vision
- Medication side effects
- Weakness from prior illnesses
Personal factors such as age, poor diet, low physical activity levels and habits like smoking or drinking alcohol can also increase the risk for falls or accidents.
Fall Prevention Tips for Seniors and Caregivers
While it’s impossible to prevent accidents from occurring altogether, taking a few extra precautions can help you to reduce the possibility of a fall. Tips for fall prevention include:
- Make healthy living choices. Diet and exercise play an important role in preventing falls. Make sure your diet includes plenty of calcium and vitamin D for strong bones, and drink plenty of water. Get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day; there are plenty of safe exercises for seniors that can help improve muscle strength, balance, flexibility and overall mobility.
- See the doctor regularly. Vision and hearing loss also can increase the likelihood of a fall, as eyesight and hearing allow you to anticipate obstacles in your path and safely adjust your course. If you are noticing any changes in vision or hearing, make an appointment to see a doctor.
- Learn about the side effects of medication. During your doctors visits, ask about any side effects prescribed medications may have. Many seniors take a variety of medications, some of which can affect balance or cause weakness.
- Safeguard the home. Clear the home or living space of any clutter that could cause a fall, especially in hallways or staircases. Things like area rugs, cords and doorway thresholds can be obstacles. Install sturdy railings or grab bars when needed.
- Invest in proper footwear. Make sure all shoes fit well, provide good support and have non-skid soles. Avoid wearing floppy slippers or high-heeled shoes, and never walk around in socks.
- Have an emergency plan. If you live independently, have a plan ready should an emergency arise. Keep a cell phone or cordless phone nearby at all times, or invest in an emergency alert device. Schedule a daily call with a friend or loved one so they know to check in if they don’t hear from you.
Senior Rehabilitation After a Fall
Senior fall recovery generally involves a stay in the hospital for one to four days, with physical and occupational therapy beginning immediately. Sometimes, a senior will be moved to a skilled nursing facility or rehabilitation center to continue therapy based on the extent of the injury. Rehabilitation is essential to ensure full range of motion, less pain, and the return to an independent lifestyle.
Healthy Aging at Concordia
At Concordia Life Care Community, we meet the current and future needs of all residents in a safe, caring environment. We have a variety of residences available on our beautiful campus to ensure a continuum of care throughout your retirement. Contact Concordia today to learn more or to schedule a visit!