Community Blog

Be Aware of Risk Factors for Seniors Falling

By Debbie Humphrey

The seasons changed from summer to autumn on September 21st, but in our beautiful Sunshine State, it was merely noted on the calendar, no remarkable changes in our temperatures. I do have family, friends, and colleagues up north who are actually experiencing fall-like temps right now, though.

Being a transplant from Ohio, I always enjoyed seeing the leaves transform from brilliant greens to vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows, before falling to the ground.

Capturing that image in my mind prompts thoughts about the seasons of one’s life. As aging adults transition to the “winters” of their lives, it is vital we be aware of risk factors for seniors falling.

It’s a given that as we age, our bodies change…and not for the better, in most cases. Our levels of activity tend to decrease over the years, leading to less strength and muscle mass. Vision and hearing loss occurs, as can our sense of balance, flexibility, and stamina.

Additionally, all medications have side effects, some of which could result in a fall. Furthermore, our liver does process alcohol the same way it did when we were younger, so our tolerance decreases. Any one or more of these factors elevate a senior’s risk of falling exponentially.

When Grandma takes a spill, the likelihood of her falling a second time doubles. Broken bones typically require hospital stays; surgical repairs; rehabilitation; possibly, physical and/or occupational therapy; and probably, in-home care; because it takes an older body longer to heal and recover from injury.

You can better ensure that Grandma’s steps are safer ones by carefully examining the above-named complicating factors, as well as areas in and around the home that can be most treacherous for the elderly.

If your special senior someone does not live in a one-level residence, please check stairways. Stairs are an obvious danger for older individuals, especially those who have undergone hip or knee replacements. For mature adults, one misstep can lead to serious non-fatal injuries like broken bones; or more critical, fatal injuries to the head, neck and spine. Handrails are definitely recommended, but also make sure stairs are not slick.

One of the most slippery surfaces in the home is the bathtub or shower. Newer tubs and showers usually include a non-slip floor, but be sure to apply non-slip appliqués or mats if necessary, and place hand rails where needed as an extra measure of precaution. If there is a concern about damaging tile to add hand grips, check into the style available now with powerful suction cups.

Throw rugs can be a hazard, especially older ones with little or no rubber backing. If Grandma takes one step too quickly, a throw rug can slip out from under their feet, causing a hard, injurious landing. Apply double-faced tape or use a rubber gripper to secure rugs to hard floors. Better still, remove them entirely to avoid such mishaps.

Since many seniors shuffle their feet when they walk, make necessary repairs to floorboards, carpets, tile and linoleum so they do not suddenly snag a toe, which can ultimately take them down.

Proper lighting is always a good idea, but especially in hallways and stairwells, because being able to adequately see the path ahead, provides a much safer journey. Install brighter bulbs or new light fixtures where needed.

In as much as elderly folks like to save everything, clutter can be a huge risk for tripping and falling. Remove items from floors and find them a “home” that makes sense, where the aging owner can find them. The fewer things a person has to navigate around when making their way from Point A to Point B, the less likely a fall will occur.

It is important for seniors to wear shoes, even when at home. Stocking feet can slip and slide on hard floor surfaces, where shoes can help support the feet, ankles and knees, as well as maintain traction, even on carpet.

Moreover, home monitoring services like Direct Link, provide another level of safety and security for your senior loved one.

Although September has come and gone, senior fall prevention is too important to overlook. If you have a senior neighbor, friend or family member in need of assistance, the skilled caregivers at Home Helpers® are experts at identifying risk factors for seniors falling, and they will literally lend a hand to help keep their footing sure and safe.

Home Helpers® caregivers provide non-medical assistance, including light housework, errands, meal preparation, transportation assistance, companionship and more. To schedule a FREE in-home consultation or receive more information about ways to make a home “fall-proof” for seniors, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Home Helpers® is honored to have received the Provider of Choice 2017 & 2018 awards from Home Care Pulse, and we proudly serve male and female seniors in Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Holiday, New Port Richey, Trinity, Port Richey, Hudson and surrounding areas. Home Helpers®…we are Making Life Easier℠  727.942.2539

Source:  Daily Caring