How To Prevent a Fall - Here Is How You Can Keep Your Loved Ones Safe
Fall risk: the stats
Falls are more common than you might think!
The Centre of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that Medicare spends roughly $31 billion on falls annually. In CDC’s words, “more than one out of four older people falls each year, but less than half tell their doctor. Falling once doubles your chances of falling again."
According to the World Health Organization, falls lead to 20-30% of mild to severe injuries and are the underlying cause of 10-15% of all emergency department visits.
The good news about falls is that most of them can be prevented. The key is to know where to look.
How to prevent a fall
There are several steps you can take to ensure your older parents, friends or relatives are as safe as possible:
Check their environment
Most seniors have lived in their homes for a long time and have never thought about simple modifications that would keep it safer as they age. Look for loose objects near the staircase, rugs that might cause slips, pet toys lying around or floors that can become slippery easily. Avoiding these potential hazards is key to fall prevention.
Vision: is their eyesight alright?
When the eye is aging, less light reaches the retina. This makes contrasting edges, tripping hazards, and obstacles harder to see. It’s important that your relative gets checked regularly and wears the correct prescription glasses.
Is their hearing okay?
If their hearing has deteriorated, this can severely affect their balance. The problem may be something easily treated, such as a build-up of ear wax or an ear infection. It’s important that if they are experiencing hearing loss, this gets treated and they get necessary hearing aid.
Are their shoes comfortable and stable?
If your loved one is wearing uncomfortable or unstable shoes, this can affect their balance and increase their risk of tripping or falling. You can encourage them to make sure their shoes fit well and don’t slip off, they are well-cushioned, and have a good grip that the shoes fasten and stay on properly. Sandals with little support and shoes with high heels are to be avoided as they are less stable. Good shoes are important for fall prevention.
Pay attention to any joint pain complaints
Notice if your older relative is experiencing aches and discomfort and as a result walk unevenly on one side. Acute pain in multiple joints is most often due to inflammation, gout, or even more commonly, due to osteoarthritis or arthritis. This is likely to make them less stable unless they use a walking cane to distribute the weight more evenly when they step.
Notice if they are using furniture, walls or another person for support when walking or standing up
If they lean on other objects or people, it’s a clear sign they lack enough balance and stability. Therefore, they are at a higher fall risk. A cane or a walker can certainly help. The best thing to do (especially if they don’t listen to you) is to advise them to see a physical therapist. They can help them realize the benefits of using a walking cane, and will provide guidance on how to use walking aids.
Encourage them to strengthen their muscles and bones
Having strong muscles and bones makes the body more stable and balanced. Your loved one can keep their bones healthy and strong by eating calcium-rich foods, getting enough vitamin D from sunlight and doing exercises with light weights. Walking is also very helpful when it comes to strengthening one’s legs, hips and knees. As we get older, our muscle strength and balance deteriorate, therefore exercises designed to improve muscle strength can reduce the risk of a fall by improving posture, coordination and balance. Stronger bones and muscles also make any injuries less serious.
How to prevent a fall: conclusion
We hope that we’ve managed to encourage you to observe your loved one’s safety and fall risk. Awareness on its own is very useful as that way your older parent, friend or relative will me extra mindful and careful when they walk, climb the stairs or stand up.
They probably are thinking about it already but might be too proud to share their concerns with you. You can encourage them to stay more alert and therefore reduce their risk of falling. That way, they’ll stay healthy and independent for as long as possible.
If you suspect they might require a walking cane, our friendly team is here to assist you and give you advice on the perfect cane to fit their unique needs. Get in touch today and we’ll be delighted to help you. You can browse our large selection of high quality walking canes.