When most people think of senior/elderly care, they picture services such as hygiene, nutrition, mobility assistance, and companionship. As important as these services are to aging seniors, fall prevention acts as the cornerstone for providing effective elderly care services. By you (or your loved one) remaining safe from falls, you can ensure that the care you receive helps make your daily life easier.
The risk of falling in your home is a genuine concern. In fact, 33% of elderly persons in the U.S fall at least once a year. Many of these falls result in both physical and psychological damage to seniors. On the physical side, many seniors may suffer from brain injuries, hip injuries, and other bodily fractures that further affect their health. On the psychological side, falls make seniors scared of falling again. This fear of falling often prevents seniors from remaining physically active (because they fear that an accident might recur).
Given this current state of affairs, fall prevention should be a top priority for your in-home care plan. Many people expect that just because you’re old, you’re likely to fall. However, you and your caregivers can work towards developing a fall prevention plan. This means that you can actually enjoy a healthy elderly life free of falls.
What Causes Falls in Seniors?
If you or your loved one is aging, the risk of falls is typically higher. There are many reasons why seniors may be at risk of slips and falls. Understanding the risk factors around falls will help you prepare yourself and your home better as you grow older.
A current medical condition
Certain medical conditions may result in both physical and mental challenges that affect mobility. For example, Alzheimer’s and Dementia are common mental conditions that may affect your ability to move around the home. Other physical challenges in your legs or arms may also make you more prone to falls.
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with a mental or physical condition, ask your doctor if the condition will increase your risk of falling. In some cases, prescription medicines may also cause symptoms such as drowsiness or dizziness, thus increasing your risk of falling. Consult your doctor about any risks you may face in the home.
The state of your home and environment
Medical conditions are not the only factors that increase your risk of falling. How your home is structured can also be a risk factor. For example, an overly cluttered home can cause you to trip and stumble over your belongings, even if you’re in good health.
In addition, if your home is not well repaired, you may also be at risk of falls. Rainfall may leak through the roof and cause you to trip on a wet floor. A tight bathroom space or slippery stairwells may also pose a challenge to seniors who have mobility issues.
The clothes and shoes you wear
What you or your loved one wears is also a contributing factor to slips and falls. Seniors should be particularly careful about their choice of clothing while in the home. Very loose clothing can easily get entangled on furniture or doors, causing you to fall and possibly become injured.
Slippery shoes may also result in a low amount of grip while walking. As part of your fall prevention plan, you should work closely with caregivers to determine the safest and most comfortable clothes/shoes to wear. Shoes with low and thick heels are often a safe option to consider.
How much light is in your home
Poor visibility in the home is another common cause of falls. Visibility issues may arise from either poor indoor lighting or vision challenges on the side of seniors. If you can’t clearly see what is around you, you may be particularly at risk of serious injury from a fall. Not only can you trip and fall off items on the floor, but you may also not see an upcoming wet floor or staircase.
Seniors should work with caregivers to ensure that their homes are well lit at all times. And if you have vision-challenges, consult your doctor to determine how you can safely move around the home.
How Seniors Can Protect Themselves from Falls
To minimize the risk of falls in your home, it’s often best to work closely with your doctors and your professional caregivers at all times. In-home caregivers are professionally trained to help you avoid any situations where you may be at risk of falling. They often supplement the advice given by your doctor to create a safe environment for you while at home.
However, even before you develop a fall prevention plan with your caregivers, there are simple steps you can take to minimize your risk of falling.
Consult your doctor
To determine your risk of falling in the home, start off by consulting your doctor. Your doctor will help you evaluate your current medical condition and the medications you’re currently taking. In most cases, a doctor will request you to document all the medications that you’re taking.
The doctor will then analyze all any potential side effects of your medication to determine if they put you at risk of falling. Any medicines that cause dizziness, drowsiness, or impaired thinking ability should be carefully administered to prevent you from falling.
You should also document instances where you may have fallen before, and what caused your fall. This information will help your doctor offer advice to prevent you from falling in the future.
Remain physically active
If you’re at risk of falling, you may feel as if you should avoid any physical activity. However, one of the best ways of avoiding falls is to remain physically active. Don’t be afraid to keep things moving, and consult your doctor about physical activities you can carry out on a regular basis. For example, walking and light muscle workouts keep your muscles strong and help improve your balance/coordination.
Depending on your medical condition, make sure you obtain a customized physical activity plan recommended by your doctor.
Keep your home free of obstacles
Another simple way of avoiding falls is to make sure your home is clutter-free. Have your loved ones or your caregivers help you rearrange the home if necessary. Start off by ensuring that all walkways are free from electrical cables, cords, boxes, etc.
In your living room, you should have enough space to safely maneuver around. You may need to remove bulky tables or unnecessary furniture form blocking your movement.
You should also carefully check the condition of your floors. Damaged or uneven floors can cause you to trip and fall while walking. Make sure any holes or cracks in your floors are repaired, and that all rugs are safely in place to prevent you from slipping.
Install accessibility devices
If you plan to age in your home, it’s a good idea to make the space more accessible. Consider features such as handrails on stairways; grab bars in the bathroom/shower, and floor treading along slippery sections of the home.
Raised toilet seats and a seat in the shower are also useful features for seniors. The goal is to make it easier for you to move around the home, even when your primary caregivers are not around.
Developing A Fall Prevention Strategy with Your Caregivers
While you can certainly take proactive steps to prevent slips and falls in your home, you will also need a more comprehensive fall prevention strategy. This means developing a plan that includes your family, friends, and in-home caregivers.
If you currently receive in-home care (or are planning to hire a professional caregiving service), they should also be involved in your overall fall prevention strategy. Because falls are the single largest cause of injuries in seniors, it’s important to take a holistic approach when preventing these risks in the home.
Here are important steps you should take towards developing a fall prevention strategy.
Proper management of your health and nutrition
As you grow older, you should be more vigilant of your health and nutrition practices. This is because older people may have less physical bodies and weaker immune systems. By supporting your health with the right foods, exercise, and medication, you can significantly reduce your risk of falling.
Proper health management will involve you, your caregivers, and your doctor. On the part of professional in-home caregivers, you can provide them with instructions about how to prepare meals and administer medication according to your doctor’s instructions. Ensuring a proper diet can be a time-consuming process for you and your family. Luckily, caregivers step in to help you achieve your desired nutritional plan.
By combining proper nutrition with physical activity and health, you can work towards minimizing your risk of falling.
Taking caution if you’re already injured
If you’ve fallen in the past, you may be at an even greater risk of being injured in the future. A good approach to fall prevention is to be aware of your physical condition and to work towards minimizing the potential impact of falls on certain parts of your body.
For example, if your lower back area is particularly weak, your legs and hips may affect your overall balance. Furthermore, falling on these parts of your body may also result in significant injury. Other conditions such as foot pain, ear complications, or having a missing limb may also increase the likelihood of slips and falls.
To minimize these risks in the home, work with your doctor and your caregivers to develop a safety plan. Professional caregivers can help you avoid exerting too much pressure on an injured foot or lower back. For example, by performing light housekeeping duties, helping with errands, and reminding you to take your medication, professional caregivers play an important role in helping you manage an on-going physical condition.
Undergoing frequent physical exams
As part of taking precaution against injuries, you should also ensure that you undergo frequent physical exams by your doctors and other relevant specialists. These checkups will keep track of your health and determine the changes you need to put in place to avoid falls in the home.
Physical exams related to fall prevention should cover the following areas:
Checking your body for any mobility issues
Your physical exam should include checking your arms, legs, back, and other areas related to movement. If you’re unable to react to sudden events in a timely fashion, you may be more at risk of falling.
Checking heart rate and blood pressure
A high blood pressure and heart rate exert undue pressure on your internal organs. Such high pressure also makes you more likely to fall. Your doctor will recommend steps towards lowering these high pressures to keep you healthier.
Checking your muscle strength
Your muscle strength will directly affect your ability to balance, walk, and avoid falls. Have your muscles frequently checked to determine if you will need special care on any part of your body.
Finding a Fall Prevention Home Care Provider Near Me
The risk of falls in seniors remains significant. However, with an effective fall prevention plan in place, you can minimize these risks in your home and live a fall-fee life. Even if you’ve fallen multiple times in the past, this doesn’t mean that you can’t live comfortably in your home with the help of professional home care providers.
Professional home care plays a significant role in fall prevention. For example, personal care services such as hygiene, toileting, meal prep, and mobility assistance all help seniors avoid the strain of doing everything by themselves.
In addition, in-home companionship and care helps seniors maintain a positive mood as they receive help with laundry, grocery shopping, and other housekeeping services. A fall prevention home care provider helps you avoid injuries from falling by supporting your overall fall prevention plan.
If you’re looking for quality fall prevention home care providers near you, Mom’s Home Care in Los Angeles can help. As a state licensed Home Care Agency, we provide quality elderly care services for aging seniors. Whether you need a helping hand to support your aging loved one, or you’re an elderly person wishing to age gracefully in your home, Mom’s Home Care can help. Contact us at 323-244-4789 today.