Tips to Preventing falls among Seniors

Falls for seniors are serious and potentially life threatening. One in every five falls does cause a serious injury such as broken bone or head injury which can significantly affect the quality of life for seniors.

Did you know?—–Fall Statistics CDC
-One out of five falls causes a serious injury such as broken bones or a head injury.
-Each year, 2.8 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries.
-Each year at least 300,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures.
More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling,7 usually by falling sideways.
-Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
Read full article: https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html

Here are some steps you can take to minimize the risk of falling at home or elder care facilities.

Don’t be in a rush
Encourage seniors not to be in a rush to do anything and not try to do multiple things at once. Moving too fast encourages falls. Never be in a rush to answer the door or answer the telephone. Running to the washroom is frequently tempting but it is better to use incontinence supplies than to have a fall.

Don’t be too proud
Mobility and independence can carry a sense of pride. But you need to swallow that pride for safety. Seniors should consider using assisted mobility not necessarily all the time (physical activity is important as well), but at those times when you may feel tired or dizzy etc. Devices such as wheelchairs, power scooters, stairlifts, wheeled walkers, canes can reduce your risk of falling at vulnerable times.

Monitor your health
Regular checkups with a health practitioner to monitor senior health may reduce risk of falling. Being the healthiest version of your self with doctor approved mild exercises and healthy eating enourages a stronger body that will equip seniors to handle the risk of falls. Monitoring levels such as blood pressure and blood sugar may reduce the risk of weakness, dizziness & poor vision which can increase the risk of falls.

Slippery floors & bathtubs
Ensure there are no slipperly floors in the home. Non slip safety grits that can be applied to the floor.
Bathtubs. Non slip bathtub mats. There are baththubs specifically designed for seniors with varying walk-in models and seats. Do your research and find one that’s safest for you. Also ensure that loose slippers are not worn but comfortable shoes.

Remove tripping hazards
Take inventory of the items in your house. Notice the most common walking areas of seniors. Ensure there is a clean and safe space for them to walk. Rid your home of loose rugs (can be taped down), and unnecessary clutter in the walkway that could be a tripping hazard.
Store items where they are easier to reach such as around chest level. Items above the senior’s reach may require a chair or stool which may throw them off balance resulting in a fall. Equally, items deep under the cupboard can throw a senior off balance.

Avoid Winter hazards
Unless you have something significantly important to do, avoid going out when the weather is bad. It can wait another day. Many winter days include slippery walkways, driveways, sidewalks and store fronts due to snow. Ensure that someone is there to assist the senior with walking if you need to go out on those days. Seniors should also have someone responsible for shovelling snow and salting (de-icing) walkways.

Stairs
Stairs can be a challenge for many seniors. They take a lot of energy and require balance. Ensure Stairs should have proper handrails installed and stairlifts when necessary.

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s may be one of the most difficult experience a family can experience. Often referred to as a family disease because of burden of watching a family member slowly get worse with time as there are no known cures for Alzheimer’s.

What is Alzheimer’s and what to look for

“Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.(What Is Alzheimer’s?)

Early Signs
Early signs may include Memory loss such as forgetting new information, important dates, names & trouble solving problems they were once able to.

Here’s a table to help distinguish the difference between Alzhemimer’s and normal aging from alz.org (10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s)

Signs of Alzheimer’s Typical age-related changes
Poor judgment and decision making Making a bad decision once in a while
Inability to manage a budget Missing a monthly payment
Losing track of the date or the season Forgetting which day it is and remembering later
Difficulty having a conversation Sometimes forgetting which word to use
Misplacing things and being unable to retrace steps to find them Losing things from time to time

 

Later Progression
As the illness progresses the ability to remember declines. Changes in behavior and mood are normal and may display verbal or physical aggression. Your loved one will need help getting things done even though they might instist that they don’t need help.
As Alzheimer’s progress to it’s later stages extensive care is required. Loved one at this stage may need to be spoon fed, diapered, cleaned, getting dressed and moving around. The ability for them to communicate has been severly diminished.

For the Caregivers 
The family Caregivers should put their physical and mental health first. You can care for someone if you are not well.  Proper Sleep, exercize & nutrition are important for physical health. It’s also important to make time for socializing and not to be isolated. Get a great support group around you. Try to find help from other family caregivers to relieve some of the burden. Hiring a caregiver or Nursing Homes maybe become a neccessary option as the illness progresses.

Here’s a great documentary that shows how alzheimer’s has really affected families. It provides some great insight of how to better deal with the patient, the effects it has on the family, and how to provide the best caregiving service to your loved ones.

References:
What is Alzheimer’s?. Retrieved from https://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_what_is_alzheimers.asp

10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Retrieved from https://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_10_signs_of_alzheimers.asp

Guestpost by: Caregivers With Hearts