Fall Risks for Seniors: How to Reduce the Risk of Falling
Believe it or not, the CDC has found that the leading cause of death and injury among older Americans is falling down. For their own safety, caregivers and seniors must take steps to reduce fall risks.
There dangers of falls for seniors are numerous. Everything from minor bruising to death can result depending on the severity of a fall and the individual’s health. While not all falls can be prevented, many can be.
Signs a Senior is at High Risk of Falling
The National Institute of Aging, says that losing a steady, healthy balance and gait is common among seniors. Other factors, like specific medications and diseases, can increase difficulty with balance. To determine if a senior is at high risk of falling, watch for the following signs:
- A change in gait
- Difficulty getting in and out of chairs or bed
- Reaching for support when bending, moving or climbing
- Needing breaks while moving about routinely, such as when climbing upstairs
- Straining to see clearly
- Watching one’s feet while moving
- Shuffling instead of lifting the feet when walking
- Pain the joints, back or lower body
- Diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Diabetes or Arthritis
If you notice of these signs like these, be proactive. Take steps with preventative measures around the home and encourage them to practice walking safely outside the home as well.
Common Medical Conditions That Increase Fall Risk
Common medical conditions that increase fall risk include the following:
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Alzheimer’s and Dementia
- Chronic Pain
- Disorders of the Foot or Legs
- Thyroid or Blood Issues
- Weakened Muscles
- Sensory Issues with Hearing, Vision, Neuropathy
Free Fall Prevention Checklist
The CDC offers a downloadable checklist for fall prevention.
Use the list to determine what changes are needed to make your home a safer place for your senior.
Fall Risks and Prevention Strategies to Follow
Floors and Stairs
- Loose rugs
- Steep steps or inclines
- Slippery surfaces
- Pets that get under foot
Prevention: Add traction surfaces and rails along the walls. Clean up obstacles and secure pets when seniors need to move. Install a chair lift on stairs if needed.
- Slippery surfaces
- Hard-to-access showers or tubs
- Lack of support
- Poor ventilation
Prevention: Keep the bathroom ventilated and dry. Add non-slip mats and grab bars. Install more accessible fixtures or seating and grab bars within the shower and tub.
Outside the Home
- Unfamiliar areas
- Crowds and cluttered places
- Uneven terrain
Prevention: Accompany seniors closely, offering support as needed. Avoid busy hours and crowded locales. Stick to the sidewalk and locations that are familiar.
- High or low shelves
- Slippery floors
- Poor lighting
- Too much furniture
Prevention: Move common kitchen items to waist level. Add traction pads to floors and increase lighting. Remove or rearrange furniture for easier maneuvering.
Bedroom and Living Area
- Dim lighting
- Clutter or excess furniture
- Lack of phones or night lighting
Prevention: Add lighting, include night lighting and clear a path for easy navigation at any hour. Secure cords, wires, and other tripping hazards behind furniture. Make phones accessible in case help is needed.
Participating in a balance and exercise program can help reduce the risk of falling. Contact us with the link below to have one of our trusted Bryan/College Station caregivers help your senior loved one.