As we age, the consequences of falling can become fatal. While falling isn’t a normal part of aging, it remains to be one of the most common causes of injury in older adults. In fact, according to the National Council on Aging, falls result in more than 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments and account for over 800,000 hospitalizations and 27,000 deaths. Fall-related injuries such as head trauma or broken bones can be harder to recover from in old age. However, there is a simple fall prevention program that you can follow to keep you safe and healthy all year long.
Fall Prevention: Causes and Risk Factors
There are many different things that can cause a person to fall. Older adults who are taking several medications might experience dizziness, which can contribute to a fall or loss of balance. Some normal aspects of aging like low vision, loss of hearing, or slower reflexes can also cause falls.
According to the National Institute on Aging, scientists have also linked personal risk factors, such as muscle weakness, balance and gait issues, and a sudden drop of blood pressure to fall-related causes. Older adults who experience foot pain or those who wear unsafe shoes are also at risk for falling. While there are many factors that cause falls, there are also many ways to prevent them.
Fall Prevention Program
The National Council on Aging reports that falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults. While the consequences of falling can be severe, preventing them can be very simple. The Mayo Clinic published a list of simple fall preventative measures every older adult should consider:
Meet with Your Doctor
As you prepare your fall prevention program, it’s important to check-in with your doctor about your current state of health. You should be prepared to discuss what medications you’re currently taking. Many doctors will change your prescription if your medications cause side effects like dizziness or drowsiness. Some types of antidepressants can also increase your risk of falling.
If you’ve experienced a fall before, it’s important to share all of the details with your health care provider. Before your appointment, write down the last time you fell, where you were, and how you fell. Sharing these types of details will allow your doctor to identify fall prevention strategies that will work for your situation.
Wear Safe Shoes
Shoes like high heels, slippers, and shoes without proper tread can cause you to trip, stumble or and fall. Walking only in socks or without proper shoes can also put you at risk for falling as well. Consider switching to sturdy and nonskid shoes to prevent unwanted falls.
Remove Hazards at Home
Many falls happen in the home, usually during the nighttime, especially if you wake up to use the restroom. You should always make sure the space between your bed and the restroom is completely clear in order to reduce your risk of falling in the home. Hallways and corners should also be kept clear, especially from big and bulky furniture.
Install Safe Lighting
As a part of your fall prevention program, you might consider installing safety lights in your home. Place censored lights in your bedroom, hallways, and bathroom so you are able to see in front of you at night or early in the morning. Switches that glow in the dark can be installed in order to find your way more easily.
Use Assistive Devices
Assisted devices such as a cane or walker can help you stay steady while on the move. There are also many devices designed to keep your home a safer place. Handrails can be installed on both sides of the stairways. In addition, a raised toilet seat with arm rests and grab bars for the shower and tub can help keep you safe while completing basic daily tasks.
Fall Prevention: Benefits of Exercise
Strengthening the muscles that promote balance and mobility will decrease your chances of falling. Keeping your muscles strong and flexible will also help reduce your recovery time in the event that you do take a fall. Here are a few exercises, that if done daily can help you prevent falls. According to Dr. Steven Castle, who has conducted extensive research on fall prevention tips, these exercises will help you build muscle, while increasing balance and mobility. As always, consult your healthcare provider before attempting these exercises:
• Partial Squat- To strengthen your legs, slowly bend at the hips and push back as if you were to sit down. You can brace yourself by balancing your hands on the back of a sturdy chair or counter. Rise up to a standing position and straighten your arms.
• Heel Raise- Place your hands on a wall to keep steady. When you feel balanced, raise your heels up so your weight is on the balls on your feet.
• Knee Flexion- While seated in a chair, raise each leg six inches off the ground one at a time. This will help strengthen and increase mobility in your knee.
• Hip Extension- Holding on to a wall or chair, keep your knee straight while slowly raising your leg behind you. This will help strengthen your legs while stretching your hips.
• Hip Abduction- hold onto the back of a chair just as you would during a hip extension. Slowly raise your leg out to the side, away from your opposite leg. Raise your leg as high as you can without leaning towards one side.
Fall Prevention Program at Maplewood
Falls can have a detrimental effect on a person’s quality of life. That’s why at Maplewood Senior Living, we’ve created a fall assessment program designed to improve safety, decrease falls, and provide information regarding our resident’s physical mobility and safety needs. This program includes a fall prevention assessment that will be completed at move in, during changes in condition and every six months in order to establish a baseline and provide continued communication on balance, strength, mobility, and safety.
Partnering with skilled therapists, this fall prevention program will prioritize safety and functional mobility, while decreasing the risk of falls. Participants will complete four standardized functional tests approved by Medicare and widely utilized by Physical and Occupation therapists in regular practices. These tests can be performed efficiently in just a few minutes and provide valuable information on the participant’s wellbeing and potential areas of need. In addition to the tests, a risk assessment will also be completed to accurately identify resident’s needs and fall-risk status.
Making Fall Prevention a Priority at Maplewood Senior Living
Together we have the ability to lower the occurrences of falls for our residents and provide the opportunity to enjoy a happier, healthier and more active life. If you’d like to see how we’re working to keep our residents safe, please contact us here. We’d love to give you a tour of our campus and give you a better idea of what it’s like to live at Maplewood Senior Living.