elderly fall prevention

Elderly Fall Prevention: 8 Ways to Reduce the Risk of Falling for Your Loved One

The winter season hasn’t technically even started, and we’re already experiencing freezing temperatures and a few snowstorms! Once winter comes around, we can begin to expect harsher weather conditions with snow and ice, which can lead to dangerous risks for those going outside.

Falling is a major risk for the elderly, and the likelihood of having a fall only increases with the presence of snow and ice on the ground during the winter season. Knowing the precautions to take, along with learning how to stay protected from falling before snowstorms are in full swing, can help minimize the dangers in those conditions and prevent seniors from falling. Before learning the steps to take to help prevent the elderly from falling, it’s important to understand the dangers associated with falling and why seniors are susceptible to it in the first place.

The Dangers of Falling

Falling is a common and severe risk that can potentially cause serious harm to someone, especially those within the elderly population. It’s been found that falling is the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries among older adults, which makes it a danger to anyone susceptible to falling.

The dangers, as a result, will vary from mild to fatal injuries. The severity of the injuries ultimately depends on the level of impact from the fall. Here are some potential dangers that seniors can face when they fall:

  • Broken or fractured bones (fractured hips are very common)
  • Physical pain and wounds
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Head trauma
  • Hospitalizations and treatment complications that can harm the quality of life
  • Severe injuries that can potentially be fatal

Not only are seniors more likely to fall as they get older, but the chances they sustain more severe and fatal injuries from their collision become even higher as well. To know how to prevent elderly relatives from falling, it’s necessary to understand what factors can contribute to their likelihood of falling.

Common Factors that Cause Seniors to Fall

The chances of falling will only increase as people age. As people get older, the body experiences changes that may limit mobility and perception of one’s surroundings. This is why falling is a seriously common danger facing seniors. Below are some common factors among seniors that can result from older age and increase their susceptibility to falling:

  • Loss of balance and coordination
  • Impaired vision along with other senses
  • Dizziness/lightheadedness
  • Muscle weakening/deterioration
  • Decreased mobility
  • Weak reflexes
  • Impaired cognition and confusion
  • Loss of sensation in limbs and/or feet
  • Irregular blood pressure and heartbeat
  • Symptoms from medications
  • Other chronic conditions or diseases that impair balance and mobility

Aside from these factors contributing to falls within the elderly population, several other causes can influence a fall. For example, regardless of being inside or outside, the conditions of one’s environment will also have an impact.

For seniors, the risks of their environments combined with even one or more of the issues above only increase the dangers associated with falling. Unfortunately, the winter weather only makes it even more difficult for seniors to get around, and the outcomes can be even more severe.

How to Prevent Your Loved One From Falling

While it may seem like a situation that’s difficult to predict and prevent, there are several measurements you can take to protect loved ones from falling and keep them safe. Here are eight ways to counteract the causes of falling.

  1. Check on Their Current Health Conditions. As we age, we face more difficulties and complications that can impair our mobility and how we function. By discussing their current conditions with their doctor, they can determine what can help and ensure your loved one is receiving the proper treatment/medication, you may be able to reduce risks related to falling by keeping the effects of these factors to a minimum.
  2. Stay Active. Through exercising regularly, seniors can strengthen their muscles and slow down bone deterioration allowing them to become stronger physically.
  3. Stay Rested. By making sure they’re getting enough sleep and stay well-rested, seniors can improve their cognitive functioning and alertness.
  4. Hearing & Vision Checkups. Slight changes in eyesight and weakened vision can impair a senior’s ability to see clearly. Making sure your loved one was recently examined and given the right prescription or glasses advised by their doctor can make a significant difference.
  5. Review Their Medications. Certain medications may have side effects, including dizziness, that can also impair balance and mobility. If the prescriptions they use cause negative side effects that may contribute to falling, it may be time to discuss alternatives that have less severe implications with their doctor.
  6. Wear the Right Shoes. Impractical and uncomfortable footwear increases the chances of a fall on its own. Wearing non-skid, rubber-soled shoes with lower heels that comfortably support your feet can positively impact your balance.
  7. Assess & Prevent Risks in Their Environment. Stairs, wires, uneven surfaces, and more can increase the chance of falling. In the winter, salting and shoveling your driveway can minimize the risk of slipping on icy surfaces. Sometimes, homeowners underestimate the work it takes to shovel their driveway. If you’re concerned about your loved one shoveling, consider having a family member help, or hire a plower to take care of it. Keep in mind that water from the snow and ice is often tracked inside during the season as well. If your loved one has hardwood or tile floors, it’s essential to manage this risk by keeping the floors dry or placing rugs in front of entrances.
  8. Make Them Aware of the Risks. By understanding the dangers of falling and the elements that cause it, reminding them to move slowly and cautiously especially during the winter season may help them keep those risks in mind.

By taking these steps, you’ll be able to minimize the risk of falling by addressing your loved one’s mobility and creating a safer environment for them. After identifying what particular risk may apply to your loved one’s balance and mobility, you can better determine what they need and how you can help them.

Although there are factors associated with aging that can predict if seniors are more susceptible to a fall, every senior should consider falling a serious danger no matter what their strength is. In fact, 1 out of 3 people aged 65 or older will have a serious fall at some point in their lifetime. Since the risk of falling is extremely high for seniors regardless of their condition, especially with the icy conditions winter brings, taking these measurements can reduce the dangers they face and potentially prevent them from having a fall.

Keep Your Loved One Safe with the Right Care

Making sure your loved one lives in a safe environment while receiving the care they need is essential for their health and well-being. However, if they’re living on their own, it can be challenging to ensure their safety, and whether or not they’re receiving the care they need 24/7.

If you’re loved one does happen to fall, a nursing home or rehabilitation center may be the right place for them to recover. Download our free Nursing Home Evaluation Checklist to know which facility can meet your expectations for safety and care.

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