As we become older, our balance, flexibility, and coordination suffer some loss, mainly due to inactivity and vision problems. This naturally leads to an increase in the chances that we will fall or trip over something. According to the National Council On Aging, falls account for the majority of fatal and non-fatal injuries for people age 65 and older. Most people don’t think they will be the victim of a fall, and it isn’t until after an incident that they begin to seek out help and prevention. Here are a few preventative measures you can take now to limit the chances of an aging loved one succumbing to a fall.
Encourage Honesty. This applies to everyone, but it’s especially important to encourage your loved one to be honest and open with their doctor. Most of the time medications or chronic illnesses contribute to falling, so it’s important to report any dizziness, lightheadedness, or vision problems right away. Also make sure to mention joint pain or any problems with the feet, ankles, knees, or hips, as a problem in any of those areas can lead to a fall.
Be Observant. Make sure to have a good look around their living space and identify any potential items or furniture that can contribute to a fall. Also pay close attention to your loved one or client as they move around. Do they hold on to a wall or chair for support? Are they steady on their feet with good balance? Do they have trouble standing up or sitting down? Any one of these can be an indicator that there is a deeper physical problem and it’s best to be proactive in addressing it.
Encourage Activity. As adults age, they become more tired, more physically limited, and chronic illnesses and pain can play a large part in reducing mobility. It is a common misconception that remaining inactive will lessen the chances of a fall, but the opposite is actually true. Daily physical and social activity helps to maintain flexibility, range of motion, and keeps your mind working strong. It’s never too late to start, and strength and flexibility can be regained.
Don’t Be Silent. Whether you are a caregiver, a family member, or an aging adult, the most important part of prevention is to communicate with one another about what’s going on. Don’t feel embarrassed or intimidated about bringing these issue to the surface. By doing so, you are taking a huge step in preventing the possible injury of yourself or someone that you care for. Talk about any health problems or concerns that you notice.
The sad reality is that 1 in 4 aging adults will suffer a fall. That is a staggering number! There is a sweet side to this reality, however, in that you hold the power to greatly reducing those statistics. Falling is not a normal part of the aging process, and it can easily be prevented by taking a few simple steps. Don’t wait until it’s too late. It is much harder to recover from an injury than to prevent one in the first place.
These statements were not evaluated by a medical professional and are not meant to take the place of a doctor’s advice. If you have questions or concerns regarding your health or the health of a loved one, please talk to your doctor.