One of the biggest fears and causes of serious injury for seniors are unexpected falls in the house. The dangers of falling range from bruises to broken bones and sometimes death. Falls can also compromise your level of comfort from day to day and immediately change your life. One of our business development representatives mentioned a story where he was working with a family that was considering home care for their mother. She was very independent but age and declining health made her consider getting help around the house. She liked the concept of living in a house that she had spent most of her adult life and having her neighbors and friends near by. Before we had a chance to provide her service we found out she was home alone and fell coming down the steps. She broke her leg and after coming out of the hospital never recovered and end up in a nursing home for the rest of her life. In a single moment her life and comfort changed. This is a very comment story that takes place everyday. Below is a list of things that can be done to prevent these disasters:
“Start exercising: Weak leg muscles and poor balance are two of the biggest risk factors that cause seniors to fall. Walking, water aerobics and strength training are all good for improving balance and strength, as are a number of simple balance exercises that your parent can do anytime, like standing on one foot for 30 seconds then switching to the other foot, and walking heel-to-toe across the room.
Review medications: Does your parent take any medicine or combination of medicines that make him or her dizzy, sleepy or lightheaded? If so, gather up all the drugs they take — prescriptions and over-the-counter — and take them to their doctor or pharmacist for a drug review and adjustment.
Be aware that many blood pressure medications, anti-anxiety drugs, antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs, antipsychotic drugs, diuretics, sedatives, tranquilizers, some painkillers and over-the-counter drugs that cause drowsiness are common culprits in medication-related falls.
Get an eye exam: Poor vision can be another contributor to falls, so get your parent’s eyes checked every year. They may be wearing the wrong glasses or have developed a condition such as glaucoma or cataracts that make it harder to see obstacles on the floor.
Your parent should also wear single-vision glasses while out on walks, because bifocal and progressive lenses can make depth perception more difficult and cause missteps.
Modify their home: There are also a number of simple household modifications you can do to make your parent’s living area safer.
Start by arranging or moving the furniture so there are clear pathways to walk through, and by picking up items on the floor that could cause him or her to trip, like newspapers, shoes, clothes, electrical or phone cords.
If they have throw rugs, remove them or use double-sided tape to secure them.
In the bathroom, buy some non-skid rugs for the floors, and a rubber suction-grip mat or adhesive non-skid tape for the floor of the tub or shower to prevent slipping, and have a carpenter install grab bars in and around the tub/shower and near the toilet for support. For even greater safety, purchase a shower chair and install a hand-held shower so your parent can bathe from a seated position.
Also, increase lighting throughout the house, and purchase some plug-in night lights for the bathrooms, hallways and stairways that automatically turn on when it’s dark. And if your parent has stairs, put handrails on both sides.
Choose safe footwear: Your parent should be aware that going barefoot or wearing slippers or socks at home can also cause falls, as can wearing backless shoes, high-heels, and shoes with smooth leather soles. The safest option are rubber-soled, low-heeled shoes that fit well and support their feet”
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