Thousands of older adults fall every year. Statistics show that falls are the number one cause of injury and loss of independence in people 65 or older.
According to the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Health Professions, falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in older adults in the United States. Falls can be dangerous; between 18% - 33% of older hip fracture patients die within one year of their injury.
There are a number of factors which contribute to the incidence of falls in older people, including:
• Slow reflexes
• Loss of muscle strength
• Balance problems
• Reduced vision
• Some medications
People suffering from debilitating illnesses such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's could be particularly susceptible to falls. It is important to be aware of this problem so that you may take steps to help prevent falls and keep your loved one safe. Here are some suggestions:
• Make sure they use a cane or walker
• Keep your home free of clutter
• Install grab bars on the bathroom walls
• Use a mat in the shower
• Make sure rugs are secured to the floor
• Keep rooms well lit
• Make sure stairs are well lit and have handrails
• Think about installing baby gates at the top and bottom of stairs
• Consider using hip pads, in case your loved one does fall to prevent fractures
• Make sure they wear flat, non-slippery shoes
• Make sure they drink enough water, particularly when the weather is hot
You can also do some things to help keep your loved one's bones healthy to minimize injury in case of a fall. Talk to your doctor about the right exercises to improve their balance, and keep their bones strong; ask if a calcium or vitamin D supplement or even medication would be appropriate for their bone health.
I hope you find these suggestions helpful. Remember, sometimes prevention is the best medicine.
Edie J. Adler:
Edie J. is an actress, author and advocate for people suffering from Alzheimer's and their caregivers. She lives in the Valley with her husband Neal, their 6 dogs, 3 3/4 cats, 3 birds and (hopefully still) 1 turtle. Author's website Email the author