It can be scary when an elderly parent experiences repeated falls. This article guides you on how to keep your elderly parents safe when they are at risk of falls.
Fall-Proofing Clothing and Footwear
Appropriate clothing and shoes can make a difference in preventing falls.
Here are some tips:
Wear sturdy shoes with non-slip soles both inside and outside the home. Avoid backless shoes like flip-flops.
Choose shoes with good traction and support, such as athletic sneakers
Take care when wearing socks or stockings – ensure they are not too slippery.
Avoid long, flowing pants or dresses that could trip you up. Opt for properly fitting clothes.
Use garment hems that don’t drag on the ground. Hem pants or skirts to an appropriate length.
Consider adding reflective material to clothing and footwear to improve visibility.
Understanding Fall Risk Factors
As people age, specific health and medical conditions can increase their risk of falls. Declines in muscle strength, poor balance, and cognitive impairment affect mobility. Other risk factors include problems with blood pressure medications, vision, and hearing. Environmental factors like clutter and poor lighting also raise the risk of falls for older adults.
Responding to Repeated Falls
If your elderly parent is falling repeatedly, try to understand why. Review when and where the falls happen to identify patterns. Consult your parent’s doctor for medical conditions affecting their balance and mobility. Consider tools like grab bars, railings, and medical alert systems to boost safety.
Regular Vision Checks
Having your parent’s eyes examined annually is vital to maintaining good vision and preventing falls.
If left untreated, age-related eye diseases like cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration can increase fall risk.
Be sure your loved one sticks to the schedule for prescription eyeglasses or contact lens updates. Wearing outdated lenses or glasses that don’t fit properly can negatively impact sight and coordination.
Encourage your parent to wear their prescribed eyeglasses or contacts consistently, especially while walking or performing tasks requiring clear vision. Don’t forget reading glasses for close-up tasks like looking at medication labels.
Regular vision checks and proper use of eyewear ensure your parent has the visual acuity needed to move safely and avoid tumbles.
Preventing Future Falls
To reduce your parent’s risk of future falls, make home modifications to improve safety. Install grab bars in critical areas, improve lighting, and remove trip hazards. Physical therapy can help improve muscle strength and balance. Review their medications with their doctor to check for side effects like dizziness. Schedule regular vision and hearing tests as well.
Home Modifications and Assistive Devices Checklist
Grab bars in the bathroom near the toilet and in the tub/shower
A shower chair or bench for bathing
Handrails on both sides of stairways
Improved lighting throughout the home
Nightlights in bedrooms, bathrooms, hallways
Removal of area rugs and clutter
Securing loose carpets and adding non-slip pads
Raised toilet seat or toilet safety frame
Re-arranging furniture for clear paths
Installing ramps if the home has steps/stairs
Medical alert system with emergency button
Anti-slip tread added to shoes
Handheld shower for bathing
Have open discussions with your parent about their risk of falls and how to prevent injuries. Look into daily activities assistance to help with household tasks. Provide reassurance if your parent becomes nervous about falling. Manage their expectations and take measures to reduce future tumbles.
Falls can threaten an elderly parent’s health, safety, and independence. By understanding risk factors, making home modifications, seeking treatment for medical conditions, and providing support, you can help protect your loved one and give everyone peace of mind. Taking proactive steps reduces the likelihood of dangerous falls and injuries like hip fractures or head injuries from broken bones. With some diligent effort, you can help your elderly parent stay steady on their feet.
Recovering After a Fall
Falls can often result in injuries like broken bones, head trauma, and deep cuts. Seeking prompt medical attention is crucial, as untreated wounds and fractures can quickly worsen.
If your parent loses consciousness or cannot move a body part after a fall, call 911 immediately to summon emergency services. Do not try to lift or move them yourself to avoid causing further injury.
While waiting for paramedics, make your parent as comfortable as possible. Place cushions or folded towels under their head, cover them with a blanket, and talk to them reassuringly.
Secure any assistive devices like canes, walkers, or crutches so they do not cause additional injury during transport to the emergency room.
Your parent will be examined at the hospital for wounds requiring stitches, fractures needing immobilization, and other injuries. Head CT scans are performed if a brain injury is suspected.
Treatment may involve casting broken bones, prescribing pain medication, administering IV fluids, conducting neurological exams, and admitting for observation. Your parent should be monitored for delayed onset of symptoms like dizziness, confusion, or vomiting that can signal bleeding or swelling in the brain.
Schedule a prompt visit with your parent’s primary care physician for less severe but still painful falls. They can check for sprains, wound care needs, medication side effects, and mobility or balance issues requiring therapy.
Recovery after a dangerous fall focuses on rehabilitation and preventing future falls. Physical or occupational therapy helps rebuild strength and stability. Home modifications, mobility aids, revised medications, and medical alert systems boost safety. With diligent care and support, most seniors fully recover their mobility after falls.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are some common causes of falls in older people?
A: Declines in vision, hearing, muscle strength, and balance are significant contributors. Medical conditions like arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease can also increase fall risk. Medication side effects, environmental hazards, and poor footwear are other common culprits.
Q: When should I be concerned about repeated falls?
A: Frequent falls are never normal. If your elder parent experiences two or more falls in 6 months, it’s time to take action. Even a single fall requires attention if your parent seems unsteady walking or complains of dizziness.
Q: What should I do after a severe fall that causes injury?
A: If a fall results in a broken bone, head injury, or deep cut, seek medical care immediately. Call 911 for emergency assistance if your parent loses consciousness or cannot move a body part. Follow up with their physician for wound care, rehabilitation referrals, and medication reviews.
Q: How can I assess my parent’s living space for fall risks?
A: Contact their primary care doctor for a home safety evaluation referral. Local fire departments and nonprofits like Area Agencies on Aging also offer this service, usually free. They can identify and help fix hazards related to lighting, railings, clutter, rugs, cords, and more.
Q: Are there any devices that can help prevent falls?
A: Yes, medical alert systems allow seniors to summon emergency help by pushing a button around their neck or wrist. Anti-slip tread on shoes improves traction. Grab bars and shower benches provide stability and support in bathrooms. Handrails on both sides of stairways are ideal.
Q: What kind of exercises help improve balance and strength?A: Tai Chi, yoga, and balance-focused training classes tailored for seniors can reduce fall risk. Even simple at-home exercises like heel raise, knee lifts, and wall push-ups build leg strength and stability if done regularly. Walking aids like canes and walkers provide additional support as well.
Balance: The ability to maintain control of one’s body while sitting, standing, or walking. Good balance helps prevent falls.
Cognitive impairment: A decline in mental abilities like memory, judgment, and comprehension makes it challenging to perform daily activities. Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can cause cognitive impairment.
Grab bars: Sturdy horizontal bars are installed near toilets and showers in critical locations to provide stability and support balance while sitting, standing, and transitioning between positions.
Gait: One’s manner and style of walking. Specific gait problems like shuffling feet or unsteady, zig-zagging walking patterns indicate fall risk.
Hip fracture: A broken upper portion of the thigh bone. This severe injury usually requires surgery and extensive rehab and is a typical result of falls in the elderly.
Medical alert system: A device worn by seniors that allows them to call for emergency help by pushing a button. Used to summon aid after a fall when someone cannot get up or reach a phone.
Mobility: The ability to move around independently and safely. Impaired mobility due to muscle weakness, pain, balance issues, or other health problems increases fall risk.
Physical therapy: Treatment provided by licensed specialists that uses exercise, massage, and other techniques to restore strength, flexibility, balance, and mobility. Helps recovery after falls. Postural hypotension: A dangerous drop in blood pressure occurs when transitioning from sitting to standing. It causes dizziness and fainting, leading to falls.
Thank you for taking the time to read our fall prevention resources. At Trusted Home Care, we are committed to helping elderly individuals maintain their independence and live comfortably at home.
Our expert team understands the challenges of mobility changes and increased fall risks as we age. We are here to provide both caring assistance and peace of mind.
If you have any additional questions or would like to discuss your situation, please schedule a free in-home consultation.
We serve Little River, Charleston, and surrounding areas. Call us at (843) 663-0249 for Little River or (803) 233-6974 for Charleston. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our consultations are free of charge and aim to evaluate your needs, answer your questions, and explore options for support. We will provide honest recommendations tailored to you and your family’s unique circumstances.
Thank you again for considering Trusted Home Care. Helping seniors live safely and comfortably at home is our passion.