Home Safety for Seniors

Preventing Falls and Fractures

How do you protect your aging loved ones from slips, falls and fractures?

Hiring a 24 hour a day home health care aide is expensive and impractical for many families struggling to care for an elder. But a simple fall can be devastating to the health and well-being of older adults. Each year thousands of elderly people fall and break or fracture a bone. A broken bone may not pose a health risk to most people it can be a start to many more serious health problems for the elderly.

What Causes Falls in Seniors?

As we get older our eyesight, hearing, reflexes, and muscles weaken. Medical conditions, like diabetes, heart disease and thyroid conditions can affect your balance. Some prescription medicines include a side effect of dizziness.

Osteoporosis makes bones weak and more likely to break. In some cases a bone may break and cause a fall. Don’t think of osteoporosis as something only women suffer from; plenty of older men lose bone mass and strength too.

Here’s how you can help prevent falling injuries.

Find out if you’re at risk by getting your bone density checked. Your doctor may prescribe supplements and other treatments to strengthen your bones.

A good exercise program will improve your strength, balance and flexibility. By maintaining an active lifestyle, exercising regularly and eating a balanced diet you can reduce your chances of falling.

Get your eyesight and hearing check. Keeping your senses sharp can help you avoid accidents. If you need glasses or a hearing aid, use them.

Be aware of the potential side effects of any your prescriptions. Be careful when you start a new medication. If you experience dizziness or drowsiness let your doctor know.

If you do have a fall, tell your doctor even if you don’t feel injured.

Sleep. Don’t push yourself if you’re tired. When you’re tired you are more likely to lose your balance or faint. Get plenty of rest.

Cut down on alcohol. As we age our bodies react differently to alcohol. Small amounts may cause dizziness, especially if combined with certain prescription medicines.

Don’t stand up too fast after resting or eating. Jumping up quickly may cause a very sudden drop in blood pressure and make you faint.

Walking sticks, canes and walkers will greatly reduce your chances of falling. Get in the habit of using them.

Avoid slick surfaces. Many older adults are seriously injured walking on recently mopped floors and icy driveways. Don’t take chances.

The right shoes can save your neck. Wear shoes or sneakers with good grips. Avoid shoes with smooth soles. Just wearing socks can lead to dangerous falls on tile or polished floors.

Properly installed carpeting can reduce slips and lessen the impacts of falls. Wall to wall carpeting is safer than throw rugs.

Invest in a good home monitoring system in case you do need medical assistance. A broken leg or hip may make reaching a telephone impossible. A quality home medical emergency alert system can save your life. Some monitoring systems have a fall detection feature which sends an alarm if the monitoring device drops. This is important since people who fall may be unconscious and unable to seek assistance.

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