Each year, millions of adults over 65 (about one in four) experience a fall. Falls are the leading cause of injuries for this demographic; according to the CDC, one out of five falls results in broken bones or a serious head injury.
Falls in older adults are dangerous, costly, and frightening for friends and family members. If you have an older family member who lives on their own, you may be worried about their fall risk and overall safety. To ensure peace of mind, it can be helpful to know and understand fall prevention and assess your family member’s home for fall risks and other hazards.
Franklin Park® Senior Living, with independent living, assisted living, and memory care communities in San Antonio, Round Rock, and Boerne, Texas, is committed to safety and wellness—inside and outside our communities. We’re sharing some tips on fall prevention and how you can be sure your aging family member is safe at home.
The Importance of Fall Prevention
As mentioned, falls are the leading cause of injuries for adults 65 and older. Falls can cause severe physical damage, most often broken bones, hip fractures, and head and neck injuries. Falls can also cause psychological harm, resulting in a lack of confidence and or refraining from regular physical activity.
As serious as falls can be, you can prevent them with the proper knowledge and precautions. Here are some things you should know about senior fall prevention.
Home Safety is Key
One of the top risk factors for falls is home hazards and dangers, such as loose throw rugs or extension cords. Even for a healthy and active adult, home hazards can pose a significant risk. Next time you are at your parent or older family member’s home, do a quick safety assessment to ensure there is nothing that could result in a fall. Here are some steps to follow to fall-proof the house:
- Secure all carpets and rugs to the floor with rubber backings or tape. Consider removing some of the rugs if it seems like there are too many.
- Place cords and wires away from commonly-walked areas. You can also roll them up or secure them to the wall with tape.
- Check all staircases and steps to ensure they are even, solid, and equipped with proper railings.
- Make sure there is plenty of bright, quality lighting throughout the home, including nightlights in the bedroom and bathroom.
- Add a rubber, non-slip mat to the shower or tub.
- If necessary, install handrails or grab bars in the bathroom.
- Clean up excess clutter or unnecessary items blocking commonly-used walkways.
- In the kitchen, place the most commonly used items on the bottom shelves where they are easier to reach.
- Keep emergency phone numbers listed on the refrigerator or front door.
Understanding Physical Factors
In addition to external factors like home safety, internal factors like physical health play a role in fall risk. Older adults who have vision problems, difficulty balancing, or a lower body weakness are at higher risk of falling. Still, there are ways to lower these risks and prevent falls. Here are some things you can discuss with your older family member and their doctor about fall prevention.
- Your family member should get their vision checked once a year and keep their eyeglasses updated as necessary.
- Ask your family member’s physician to review their current medications to make sure none will make them dizzy or sleepy. If there are, discuss if further preventative measures should be taken.
- Your family member should have secure footwear that can help stabilize them. They should avoid wearing loose slippers, slick-soled soles, or anything with laces.
- Ensure your family member is getting enough Vitamin D through diet or supplements. A Vitamin D deficiency can cause muscle and bone weakness, resulting in a higher risk of falls.
- Work on strength and balance exercises. There are basic, low-impact exercises that you can guide your family member through that can help improve strength, balance, and overall confidence and coordination.
Promoting Peace of Mind
While falls are not 100% preventable, knowing what causes them and how to prevent them can offer peace of mind for both older adults and their family members. By evaluating their external and physical safety, you can have peace of mind knowing your older loved one is safe and secure at home.
At Franklin Park® Senior Living, we have implemented safety measures and features to protect our residents from falls and other hazards. Each of our assisted living apartments in San Antonio, Texas, comes with an emergency response system with a wireless pendant, built-in pathway lights, and safety bars in bathrooms. We also have other safety features implemented throughout the communities to enhance overall security.
Visit our website to discover more about how we promote wellness, safety, and peace of mind at Franklin Park® Senior Living.