As seniors age, their risk of falls increases dramatically. In fact, statistics provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the National Council on Aging (NCOA) website show that falls are much more common than one may guess. According to the statistics, one in four Americans over 65 falls each year, and every 11 seconds a senior is treated in the emergency room for a fall. Shockingly, every 19 minutes a senior dies from a fall, showing that this is a much bigger problem than many think.
According to Peggy O’Neill, Director of Sales and Marketing at Lions Gate, a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) in Voorhees, New Jersey, seniors may not think they are at risk for falls, even though the risk is there. “Whether a fall is the result of an accident or a health issue, it’s crucial to recognize that falls can happen to anyone, anywhere and at any time,” says Peggy. “This doesn’t mean that there aren’t underlying reasons that a senior may be more prone to falls, like side effects of medications that cause seniors to become dizzy, health conditions such as arthritis, stroke or vision problems or even inactivity. It does mean that when added to environmental factors that seniors have no control over, falls can become more likely and even dangerous. This is why it becomes important to manage the factors that seniors can control in order to reduce the risk of falls and prevent them from occurring.”
The Importance of Fall Prevention
Falls aren’t just something to ignore, especially since they are generally easy to prevent. It’s surprising to know that many seniors don’t understand why it’s important to keep falls from occurring in the first place. According to the CDC, it’s important to prevent falls because:
Falls are a threat to health. Falls can cause seniors a world of trouble both physically and emotionally. According to the CDC, one out of every ten falls cause hip fractures or head injuries that result in the need for hospitalization. Emotionally, seniors who have fallen before may fear another fall will occur, which can cause them to live a less-active lifestyle than they would have had a fall never occurred.
They can decrease independence. Many falls cause seniors to need rehabilitation in a long-term care center, according to the article. This rehabilitation can take up to a year or longer, and some seniors are unable to live independently again after a fall.
Falls can potentially be fatal. The CDC states that falls are the leading cause of fatal injuries in seniors, with 25,000 seniors dying as a result of a fall. This number continues to rise steadily.
Effective Ways Seniors Can Prevent Falls
With fall-prevention programs, as well as active steps to reduce seniors’ fall risk, it may be easier than ever to keep seniors safe from the risk of falls. The Mayo Clinic® states that enacting some of the following fall-prevention strategies can significantly reduce the risks seniors face.
Improve balance. Balance can help to prevent falls in seniors while keeping them healthy. Those who complete balance exercises have an all-around easier time remaining steady, active and mobile longer.
Assess the home environment. There are many hazardous factors in the home that seniors may trip over. Cords, rugs and other stray items may cause seniors to fall. Place non-slip rugs on surfaces that may become slippery and be sure to keep areas in the home well-lit with nightlights.
Install assistive devices. If seniors are prone to sliding or slipping in the shower, install a seat or grab bars. Be sure there’s one outside of the shower as well for when they get out. If seniors have trouble getting up from the toilet, purchase a raised toilet seat in order to make it safer for them.
Be more careful when walking outdoors. Keep an eye out for raised cracks in the sidewalk, curbs and slippery surfaces when it’s raining or snowing. Seniors should take extra care during hazardous weather conditions to ensure they don’t fall.
Pay close attention to medications. When taking new medications, it’s normal for side effects to appear. Some may increase dizziness or drowsiness, making it easier for seniors to fall. If you notice this, talk to your loved one’s doctor to see how to combat the effects or see if there is another medication available that may reduce side effects. Often, these side effects decrease over time, so seniors may just need to take extra care.
Stay active. Doing some additional exercises, aside from the balance exercises mentioned earlier, can help with fall prevention. According to the Mayo Clinic, walking, water exercises or tai chi can help to reduce falls by improving strength, coordination and flexibility.
Choose better shoes. This may seem obvious, but high heels, flip flops and slippers can increase the chances of a fall. Consider purchasing non-slip shoes that fit well and are sturdy in order to prevent falls.
Visit the eye doctor. If seniors notice they are having trouble judging distance or height, it’s important to visit the eye doctor. Problems with vision can cause seniors to be much more likely to fall.
For more tips and information about how to prevent falls for seniors, Lions Gate would be happy to assist you. With a friendly team, expert therapists, specialized exercise classes at resident’s disposal and top-rated rehabilitation within a 5-Star CMS-Rated Health Center, we know what it takes to keep seniors safe, healthy and happy.
Inspiring Wellness Every Day at Lions Gate.
Lions Gate, located in Voorhees, NJ, offers a continuum of lifestyle and care options rooted in Jewish traditions and values. Whether you are in need of Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing or Rehabilitation Services, Lions Gate has you covered.
Our mission at Lions Gate is to enrich the lives of those we serve through quality and compassionate care consistent with our heritage and values. We strive to provide programs and services that inspire well-being, as well as social, cultural and spiritual independence.
As a full-service community rich in wellness programs, meaningful experiences and educational opportunities from Lions Gate University, Lions Gate allows residents to connect with those who share their interests and cherished traditions. Our goal is to provide residents with an active, worry-free lifestyle filled with ways to connect with others, pursue their passions and be engaged in everyday life. While we focus on Jewish customs and traditions, we welcome people of all faiths to the Lions Gate family.
Through our affiliation with Jewish Senior Housing and Healthcare Service, we also offer three senior living communities for those with limited incomes.