An alarming report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that deaths from falls among older adults is up 31 percent since 2007. While you might at first think the increase is due to the fact that the senior population is getting larger, the CDC says they adjusted the rate to account for the increased population.
The exact reason for the increase in deaths from falls is not clear, but scientists suspect it may have something to do with the fact that more people are living with chronic illnesses and taking multiple medications for them.
Yet, falls are not considered a normal thing that one should expect when they age. Instead, older adults and their caregivers should take steps to reduce the risk of falls.
Below are some tips for fall prevention.
Exercise May Be Key
New thinking on fall prevention suggests that the best way for older adults to avoid falls is through exercise. In the past, doctors used to recommend taking calcium and vitamin D supplements to reduce the risk of fractures when a fall occurs. Now, though, research indicates the supplements may not be as effective as doctors once believed. So, it may be better to strengthen the muscles that support bones and make a person steadier on their feet. Older adults should make exercise a habit, getting in 30 minutes on most of the days of the week. To make exercise even more effective, experts suggest including strength training, especially exercises that make the quads stronger. They should also perform exercises that improve balance.
See a Doctor
If your aging relative hasn’t been to see the doctor lately, make an appointment to talk to the doctor about their specific fall risks. At the appointment, talk to the doctor about the medications the senior takes and whether any have dizziness or loss of balance as a side effect. Also, talk about the conditions your family member has and whether they may pose a risk for fall. Then, work with the doctor to make a plan to reduce their risk of falling.
Fall Proof the Home
Take a walk through the older adult’s home and look for anything that may cause them to trip. Remove clutter from walkways, including electrical cords, loose throw rugs, and furniture. Move items your family member uses frequently to places that are easy to reach. Avoid placing common items at heights that require them to stretch upward or use a chair or step ladder to reach. Also, add grab bars in the bathroom and near the bed to provide something to hold on to when showering or getting up from the toilet or bed.
Home care services can also help to prevent falls. A home care services provider can assist with keeping the house free of clutter. Home care services providers can also help older adults to get more exercise by taking walks with them, supervising exercise at home so they feel safe, or driving them to exercise classes. Finally, home care services providers can assist older adults who are unsteady on their feet when they get up from chairs or walk around the house.