Keeping Seniors Safe from Falls
Slip and fall accidents are the leading cause of injury for seniors in Canada and the damaging repercussions that a fall can have on quality of life can be significant. Every year 1 in 3 seniors across the country are injured in a slip and fall accident which can impact their ability to sustain an independent lifestyle.
Taking preventative measures to avoid injuries from falls is often the most effective way to reduce the risk factors and dangers associated with falls. Seniors in the Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge area may benefit from home care assistance to establish a safer and more comfortable environment within their homes.
Potential Impact of a Fall
Increased age directly coincides with a more vulnerable state of health. This means experiencing a fall over the age of 65 will very likely have a more serious impact on health than it would on a middle-aged adult. Severe injuries can have lasting effects and compromise independence and the ability to carry out daily routines.
Physical and Mental Effects
A fall in the home may result in physical injuries like head trauma, fractures, broken bones, sprains, cuts abrasions, and more. Recovering from a physical injury can be a long and strenuous road, and the older the individual injured, the longer and more demanding the healing process tends to be.
The problem with an injury sustained in a fall is that it often doesn’t end with the physical impact. A fall can be a frightening and traumatic event that can have lingering mental and emotional repercussions. For instance, it may induce greater feelings of anxiety and worry that another fall might occur, shattering self-confidence and feelings of security.
These feelings can discourage seniors from getting the exercise they need to maintain physical health. This can have a snowball effect leading to a more sedentary and isolated lifestyle which may end in severely impaired mobility or depression. That is why preventative measures to avoid fall injuries are crucial to avoid negatively impacting the physical and mental health of seniors in a significant way.
Keeping Seniors Safe
Establishing safe and healthy practices and safety measures around the home can help prevent seniors from sustaining slip and fall injuries. Being aware of the risk factors to detect vulnerabilities is a good way to implement an effective prevention plan.
Some appropriate risk factors to consider include:
- Chronic health problems
- Visual impairments
- Hearing loss
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Poor nutrition
- Diminished strength, mobility, balance, coordination
- Trip hazards around the home
- Other environmental factors
Any of these things may contribute to an increased risk of falling and being injured. Getting ahead of possible problems before they occur helps reduce the risk of injury and improve overall health and wellbeing.
Preventative Measures to Reduce Fall Risks
- Talk to a Health Professional: Consult your doctor, healthcare, or home care professional to assess risk factors for falls and detect any health-related vulnerabilities that may lead to a fall.
- Schedule Routine Vision and Hearing Tests: Difficulties with vision and hearing are very common in seniors. Hearing and vision assessments should be done regularly after the age of 65 regardless to prevent a variety of more serious health issues.
- Medication Side-Effects: Dizziness and fatigue are common side-effects of medications, and may contribute to fall risk. Be aware of the possible side-effects of each medication and how multiple drugs might interact with one another to increase the possible risk of falling.
- Symptoms of Existing Health Conditions: Being aware of the symptoms that come along with existing health conditions can offer insight into whether these conditions might cause vision, balance, movement, or hearing changes that increase fall risks.
- Home Safety: Clear clutter, tuck away chords, rug corners, and other items that might be tripped on. Ensure rooms are well lit so that the way is clear and organize furniture in a safe and easy to navigate arrangement. In some areas, such as the bathroom, it can also be helpful to install hand rails.
- Keep Fit: Maintaining a level of physical fitness and nutrition helps develop balance and keeps the body in better overall physical condition so that it is stronger and less prone to tumbling.
- Foot Traction: Slippery surfaces often lead to slips and falls. Installing rubberized mats, or making sure that socks and slippers have traction grips on the bottom can help reduce the chances of slipping. Comfortable shoes with good treads are highly recommended indoors and out.
While falls are a real risk for seniors, it is important to always keep in mind that falls do not necessarily have to be an inevitable aspect of being older. Arrangements can be made to minimize risks as much as possible. Remaining aware of possible dangers, risk factors, and vulnerabilities is critical. Taking the required steps to attend to the environment as well as general state of health can help keep seniors feeling safer and more comfortable within their homes as they continue to live out their lives.