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Hidden Fall Risks: What You Need to Know to Protect the Older Adult You Love

fall risk in seniors

Too many seniors are injured as a result of falls. Learn what caregivers and seniors can do to reduce fall risk.

Focusing on Fall Prevention

The CDC has found that the leading cause of death and injury among older Americans is falling down. For their own safety, caregivers and their seniors must take steps to reduce fall risks. The dangers of falls for seniors are varied.  Depending on the severity of a fall and the senior’s health injuries range from minor bruising to death. While not all falls can be prevented, with a proactive approach, significant risk reduction can be achieved.

Signs a Senior is at High Risk of FallingList that details conditions that increase fall risk

The National Institute on Aging reports that losing a steady, healthy balance and gait is common among seniors. Other factors, like certain medications and diseases, can increase difficulty with balance. To determine if a senior is at high risk of falling, watch for the following signs:

  • A change in gait
  • Trouble getting in and out of chairs or bed
  • Reaching for support when bending, moving, or climbing
  • Needing breaks while moving about routinely, like when going up stairs
  • Straining to see clearly
  • Watching one’s feet while moving
  • Shuffling instead of lifting the feet when walking
  • Pain in the joints, back, or lower body
  • Diseases like Alzheimer’s, Diabetes, or Arthritis

If you notice signs like these, take action. Help seniors with preventative measures around the home. Also, encourage them to practice walking safely outside the home as well.

Fall Risks and Prevention Strategies at Home 

Floors and Stairs

Fall Risk Factors:

  • Loose rugs
  • Steep steps or inclines
  • Slippery surfaces
  • Clutter
  • Pets that get underfoot

Prevention: Add traction surfaces and rails along the walls. Clean up obstacles and secure pets when seniors need to move. Install a chair lift on the stairs if needed.

 

Bathroom

Fall Risk Factors:

  • Slippery surfaces
  • Hard-to-access showers or tubs
  • Lack of support
  • Poor ventilation

Prevention: Keep the bathroom ventilated and dry. Add non-slip mats and grab bars. Install more accessible fixtures or seating and grab bars within the shower and tub.

 

Outside the Home

Fall Risk Factors:

  • Unfamiliar areas
  • Crowds and cluttered places
  • Uneven terrain

Prevention: Accompany seniors closely, offering support as needed. Avoid busy hours and crowded locales. Stick to the sidewalk and locations that are familiar.

 

Kitchen

Fall Risk Factors:

  • High or low shelves
  • Slippery floors
  • Poor lighting
  • Too much furniture

Prevention: Move everyday kitchen items to waist level. Add traction pads to floors and increase lighting. Remove or rearrange furniture for easier maneuvering.

 

 

Bedroom and Living Area

Fall Risk Factors:

  • Dim Lighting
  • Clutter or excess furniture
  • Lack of phones or night lighting

Prevention: Add lighting, include night lighting, and clear the path. Easy navigation should be the goal – no matter the hour. Secure cords, wires, and other tripping hazards behind furniture. Make phones easily accessible in case help is needed. (homeadvisor.com)

 

megaphoneHome Care TipClick to download a free room-by-room fall prevention checklist

Participating in a balance and exercise program decreases fall risk. Contact a doctor, local YMCA, or Area Agency on Aging to find programs nearby for seniors with balance problems. Don’t forget to download our free fall prevention checklist! 

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