By Janice Pressede, Nurse Care Manager
The Fall season is here, and with the National Council on Aging’s Falls Prevention week beginning, it seems appropriate to talk about fall prevention.
Do you know how best to reduce your loved one’s fall risk? Falls don’t have to be a normal part of aging, but the reality is that one in four people over 65 have fallen, often resulting in injury. According to the National Council on Aging, these injuries amounted to over 3 million annually, including 850,000 hospitalizations and more than 29,000 deaths.
We want you to be aware of some of the factors that contribute to falls in older people.
Decreasing or impaired vision in older adults, disturbances in gait and balance, certain medications that can cause dizziness and drowsiness, safety hazards such as throw rugs, cluttered rooms and hallways, and certain chronic medical conditions. For example, Diabetes can result in peripheral neuropathy and impaired vision, resulting in an increased risk of falls. Strokes or arthritis can severely limit one’s movement and ambulation status and necessitate assistive devices.
If you experience orthostatic hypotension-or, as it is sometimes called, postural hypotension-you may feel dizzy or lightheaded when you stand up from a sitting or lying position. Stand slowly, pause briefly and make sure it is safe for you to start walking.
It may be necessary to make other lifestyle changes, such as avoiding crossing your legs when sitting, elevating the head of your bed, and drinking adequate fluids to prevent any further dizziness. It is also important that you get instruction on and remember to use any assistive devices you may be utilizing, such as a cane, quad cane, or walker. Sometimes a referral to a physical or occupational therapist may be helpful.
So, what are some things to do to mitigate the risk of falls?
- Remove clutter from rooms and hallways. A clear path will result in less risk of tripping and falling.
- Get rid of small throw rugs that can slide or use double-sided tape to prevent this.
- Place grab bars next to the toilet and in the tub and shower.
- Put non-slip strips or a rubber mat on the floor of your tub or shower.
- Check the lighting in the home. Make sure there is adequate light in the bathroom by having a nightlight, a lamp on a table next to the bed that is easy to turn on and off, light switches at the top and bottom of stairs, and a flashlight by the bed in case of a power outage.
- Clean spills immediately to prevent slipping.
- Wear shoes inside and outside your home.
- Consider installing handrails on both sides of the stairs and when carrying items up and downstairs, carry the item in one hand and use the handrail with the other.
- Manage and contain electrical cords.
In addition to the above, did you know that you can take a simple, free test to help you understand how to reduce the risk of falls? Click on this link for your Falls Free Checkup https://www.ncoa.org/article/falls-free-checkup.
Care managers at The Option Group can do a thorough falls assessment at the initial time of contact and periodically thereafter. We are trained to identify fall risk factors and recommend the needed safety measures to help minimize your or your loved one’s risk of falling.
If you or someone you care about needs additional support to help cope, The Option Group is here to help. Please contact our professional care management team for assistance.
About The Option Group: Founded in 2010, The Option Group’s compassionate team of experienced Certified Life Care Managers serves families, their loved ones, medical professionals, and professional family advisors in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. The firm understands the challenges of caring for an individual who needs assistance due to aging, dementia, disability, or serious illness. Their skilled providers possess over 100 years of combined experience navigating the healthcare maze and accessing hundreds of quality resources. The Option Group helps families spend quality time with their loved ones, providing clear choices that lead to better care. For more information, visit www.theoptiongroup.net or call 410-667-0266 (MD) or 717-287-9900 / 610-885-8899 (PA) / or 302-858-6449 (DE).