As a caregiver, what can I do to proactively prevent a fall?
Did you know that falls are the leading cause of injury among aging Canadians? Falling poses a huge risk to the health, safety, and independence of elderly individuals, so, hats off to you for being proactive!
Even if you do everything just right, accidents can still happen. In this article, we will outline some of our favourite fall prevention tips as well as how to help reduce the potential long-term impacts of falls when they do occur.
PREVENTION IS KEY
▢ Tape down carpets and avoid using loose rugs – these simple items can be a serious trip hazard!
▢ Safety devices such as grab bars, raised toilet seats, or even tilt recliners can help prevent falls when transitioning back and forth from standing to sitting.
▢ Consider a complete home assessment by an Occupational Therapist – they can make appropriate recommendations for the specific needs of each individual.
▢ Use non-slip shower mats in bathing areas – including in the tub or shower.
▢ A shower chair or bench is a great and affordable addition to any elderly person’s shower routine!
▢ Reduce clutter around walking paths in the home and make sure there are no cords or cables that could catch an unsuspecting foot, cane or walker.
▢ Build strength and balance by doing physical activities such as yoga, tai chi, or strength training. You can find plenty of free routines geared towards seniors online – or join a local community group for a more social experience!
▢ Fatigue and exhaustion can easily lead to a fall in the elderly – even those with relatively good mobility. Be mindful of energy levels and adjust daily activities accordingly.
▢ Hydration is an often overlooked fall risk. Dehydration can mean lower blood pressure, dizziness and disorientation in the elderly. Keep water nearby and encourage fluids throughout the day!
▢ We highly recommend secure-fitting rubber-soled shoes (or slippers!) to improve traction on indoor and outdoor surfaces.
▢ Consider using the services of a Physiotherapist, Kinesiologist, or Recreational Therapist for guidance on exercises and routines appropriate for you or your loved one.
▢ Regular medical checkups can help catch many health issues that increase the risk of falls. Low blood pressure, cardiac disease and cognitive decline are things your doctor can help identify before they lead to an injury.
▢ Don’t forget the optometrist! Vision changes are common as we age and prescriptions need to be kept up to date. Your optometrist can also detect glaucoma and many other diseases of the eye.
▢ If your loved one is diabetic, be sure to monitor blood sugar levels to avoid dizziness or fainting spells that could lead to a serious fall.
▢ Be extra cautious when your loved one is ill or has an infection. Illness can lead to an unstable gait.
▢ Medication can sometimes cause dizziness, lightheadedness, or a general sense of being disoriented. Be extra vigilant when new medications are introduced or doses are changed.
REDUCING THE IMPACT OF FALLS
▢ Medic alert bracelets or pendants can mean getting help quickly if a fall occurs. Prompt medical attention can avoid further aggravation of the injury and a lot less time in pain and discomfort.
▢ Add well-installed mats or carpets on floors in often used areas such as next to the bed or a favourite couch or chair. In the event of a fall, this may provide a bit of cushion.
▢ Pad sharp corners and edges to reduce the risk of cuts and skin tears if a fall does take place.
▢ Hip fractures are common in the elderly and can lead to very lengthy recoveries. Purchase underwear with hip padding to help protect the area in the event of a fall.
▢ Cold compresses can help soothe injured areas and reduce swelling and bruising.
▢ Pain relief can help mitigate discomfort. Being able to complete light exercise and keep moving after an injury can be crucial to improving recovery times.
▢ Be proactive about asking questions after a fall: Why did your loved one fall? Has their health condition deteriorated or changed in some way? Ask the emergency room or your family doctor. You can be an invaluable advocate for your loved one in a busy medical system.
For more information about preventing falls, care management services and how BethCare can help you and your loved one, please visit our website.