Home caregivers and seniors with mobility issues may know what they need to do or look out for to prevent falls, but if you are expecting a loved one with mobility issues for a visit, do you know what you need to do to keep them from falling?
According to the CDC, one in four people over the age of 65 in the United States fell in 2014. That adds up to about 29 million falls and a shocking 27,000 deaths as a result of the falls. It is also the leading cause of fatal injuries in seniors and can cause hip fractures, head trauma, and broken bones. On an emotional level, seniors who fall can become fearful of going out, which can be detrimental to their physical and mental health.
Our simple tips will help you prepare your house for senior visitors with mobility issues so you can help your loved ones to stay healthy and independent as long as possible.
Factors That Can Lead to Falls
As we get older, our bodies change and become limited, which increases the chances of having a fall. Here are some factors that increase the risk of falling in seniors with mobility issues:
Balance and gait issues: As we age, we lose some of our balance, flexibility, and coordination.
Vision problems: Less light reaches the retina the older we get, which makes it difficult to distinguish contrasting edges, obstacles, and other tripping hazards.
Medication: Some medicines can cause dizziness and dehydration, both factors that increase the risk of falling in seniors.
Hazardous surroundings: Steps and stairs, loose rugs, wet and slippery floors, clutter, cables, and other home hazards can be a death trap to seniors with mobility issues.
Chronic conditions: Illnesses like diabetes and arthritis can increase the risk of falling.
Inappropriate footwear: Shoes that are too loose or too tight, or that have soles without proper grip are falling hazards.
Weight: Weighing too little can make one weak while weighing too much can make it harder to move with ease.
Muscle weakness: The older we get, the weaker our muscles get, which makes it harder to get up from a chair, out of a bath, or walking up the stairs.
Alcohol misuse: Consuming too much alcohol can make one weak and dizzy, increasing the risk of falling.
Steps to Reduce Falls in Seniors with Mobility Issues
Be eye wise: Glasses often create risks of its own. Tint-changing lenses take some time to adjust when coming into a dark house from the bright sun. If your senior guest is wearing tint-changing glasses, encourage him or her to wait for the glasses to adjust to normal. Bi-focal lenses and stairs don’t work well together, so give a hand when your senior guest is ascending or descending the stairs. If spending time outside in the warm sun, glasses can slide down from sweating, making it harder to see.
Keep an eye on medication: If your senior guest asks you for help with over-the-counter medication for a discomfort, like a headache, make sure you read the up about the side-effects.
Encourage a good rest: Make sure your senior guest gets a good night’s rest and midday nap, if necessary. A comfortable bed and quiet surroundings will help encourage a regenerative sleep.
Ensure optimal lighting: Increase lighting in the house, especially in hazardous areas like at the top or bottom of the stairs. Install night lights or make sure light switches are easily reachable should your senior guest with mobility issues need to get up in the middle of the night.
Install railings and grab bars: Have a place they can hold on to when using the stairs, even if it is only one or two steps, and when getting out of the bathroom tub or shower, or getting up from the toilet.
Reduce clutter: Remove loose rugs or replace them with non-slip alternatives. Make sure loose electrical cords and small obstacles are packed away.
Encourage physical activity: Exercises improve balance and strengthen the muscles, reducing the risk of falls in seniors with mobility issues. Excellent exercises to try are yoga, Tai Chi, dancing, and walking.
Dry up water hazards: Wipe moisture from steam or spills in the bathroom or kitchen immediately. It only takes one unsteady step to slip and fall.
Make your bathroom safe: You can add non-slip surfaces to your bathtub or shower, put a bath seat in the shower if necessary, and raise the toilet seat.
Store kitchen supplies safely: Items that are regularly used can be stored in a place that is easy to reach, without having to stand on a step ladder. Heavy items can be kept near the bottom.
Keep exteriors safe: Keep the entrance and walkways free of ice, snow, and leaves. Additional lighting can keep the front entrance well lit, and gardening implements can be stored away safely when not using. Be extra careful during or after it rains and offer your arm for support.
Healthy and nutritious meals: Everybody can benefit from eating a well-balanced diet, but especially seniors, to keep up their strength. Skipping meals can cause can cause dizziness and increase the risk of falls. Also make sure you know about allergies, even mild ones, and avoid those foods entirely.
The right shoes: If you take your guest out, make sure they wear comfortable shoes with the right support and appropriate for the terrain.
With the necessary preparation, you senior visitor with mobility issues will be safe from falls, and you will have an enjoyable time together. If you need any help implementing these changes or need the help of a home caregiver to assist you when your loved one with mobility issues come for a visit, reach out to Alegre Home Care. Our home caregivers are there to help!