As seniors, we face what seems to be an ever-increasing number of threats to our health and well-being. You can hardly turn on the news or pick up a paper without hearing frightening statics about heart disease, cancers, the newest strain of covid. That being said, would you find it hard to believe that according to the National Institute on aging, the number one threat to us is actually taking a fall??
More than one in four people, 65 or older, will fall each year causing injury, hospitalization, disability and even death. For a person living with dementia, the threat is even higher. As the brain changes, the effects are not only in cognition, but also vision. The field of vision shrinks as the disease progresses making it more difficult see. It may be hard to notice that throw rug folded over or the oxygen cord wrapped around the walker leg or even to recognize it as a danger.
Here are some of the most common causes for falls and ways to prevent them.
Spills. Quickly dry any spills on floors in restrooms or the kitchen. Once, I slipped and fell on a quarter sized puddle caused by an ice cube that had fallen out of the refrigerator door. I injured my shoulder requiring major surgery to correct. Such a dumb way to get such a severe injury, but I simply didn’t see it!Be on the lookout for power or phone cords stretched across pathways.
Throw rugs are lovely and ladies often don’t want to give them up, but they can be treacherous, get rid of them.
Remove blankets or throws that have slipped to the floor as well as books, magazines or newspapers.
We have all been there, making that mad dash to the restroom. Listen to your body and pay attention when it tells you, you may need to make a trip soon. DON’T WAIT! This is exactly how my sweet Mom broke her hip. In the wee hours one morning, she ran to the restroom. When her sock feet hit the tile floor, they went out from under her and she went down. Hard. If you are not going to wear shoes or slippers at home, make sure to wear gripper socks to provide traction and prevent slips.
Poor lighting adds to visual difficulties in the home. Make sure all areas are well lit. Add night lights to pathways leading to the restroom.
Blood pressure changes can cause dizziness especially when changing positions. When moving from sitting to standing, stand for a few moments and take a few deep breaths to allow BP to stabilize and any dizziness to dissipate. This is especially important when getting up during the night. Make it a habit to sit on the edge of the bed for a minute before rising. (I know, I know, you are in a hurry, but trust me , wet pants are far less painful than a broken hip!)
Medication Side Effects:
Check with your doctor or pharmacist to see if any of your medications cause dizziness and if there are alternatives.
I have treated numerous patients recovering from broken bones after tripping over their cat or dog. Make sure you know where your favorite furry friend is before beginning to walk.
These are just a few of the hazards that lurk. Take a walk through your home to see what problems you can identify.
Seek professional help in order to gain some peace of mind. Changing Minds LLC does offer in-home safety evaluations. Let us help you locate and manage issues that may put you and your loved one at risk of falling. We also provide expert advice on addition and placement of grab bars and other equipment.
Gaylynn has served the Wichita and surrounding area as a Physical Therapy Assistant for over 25 years in long-term care, physical rehabilitation, skilled nursing, and home health. She is frequently personally requested by home health clients.
Gaylynn is a certified Positive Approach To Care® GEMS® Activity Specialist. She also had the blessed experience of caring "with" her beautiful mother, who lived with Alzheimer's disease, in her home. Through that experience, Gaylynn sought out resources on her own and has been a wealth of knowledge and inspiration to our team and the community.