Falls don't happen "just because". There are reasons behind them. Not every fall results in injury, and it can be easy to dismiss a fall here or there as just something to expect with getting older. However it is important to take every fall seriously.
Falls are Serious Problems for the Elderly
Falls can lead to serious injuries. In fact, one in five falls results in a serious injury such as a broken bone or brain trauma. When an elder falls, they are twice as likely to fall again. Serious injuries, and sometimes even relatively minor injuries, can have a significant impact on an elder's health and independence.
Serious Injuries are Serious
Serious injuries can impact an elder's health in obvious ways. They can also lead to a cascade of less obvious effects.
If a fall results in a hospitalization, surgery or new medications, it can lead to countless complications. Some might be minor annoyances, such as mild constipation or upset stomach. Others can literally lead to the loss of independence, or even life.
Even Mild and Non-Injury Falls can be Serious
Relatively mild injuries can make it hard or uncomfortable to walk or move around. This can make daily life much more difficult and exhausting.
An elder may grow fatigued at the extra effort it takes to carry out the usual routine. They may find bathing or getting to the toilet exhausting or troublesome.
Even if a person isn't hurt, falls are scary. Older people who fall once often develop a fear of falling again. This fear can cause them to limit their activity. Reduced activity can lead to muscle weakness, which, ironically, can end up increasing their risk of falling again.
Look for Patterns
When an aging parent falls, look for what might have contributed to it. If more than one fall has occurred, look for patterns or trends in their circumstances.
If, for example, an elder tends to fall early in the morning as they rush to the restroom, adding a portable commode or urinal at the bedside may help. If, instead, they tend to fall when they first stand up, they may be experiencing orthostatic hypotension, a condition that causes dizziness upon rising from a lying or sitting position.
Involve the Doctor
Be sure the doctor is aware of all falls, and any concerns about falling. The doctor can review medications and medical conditions to see what might be making it worse.
The doctor may also recommend treatments or action that can help. For example, the doctor may prescribe physical therapy to improve strength and balance or to perform a home safety evaluation.
Consider a Home Safety Evaluation
During a home safety evaluation a physical or occupational therapist watches the way an individual gets around their home. They look for areas that can be made safer, and then provide personalized recommendations.
Common home safety recommendations include:
- To install grab bars in the bathroom
- To removing tripping hazards such as cords, area rugs or clutter
- To increase light levels in dim areas or walkways
Hire Elderly Care Help
Elderly care services can be customized depending on the individual's needs.
What is contributing to the fall risk? Elderly care aides come into a senior's home to help with challenging, tiring or dangerous tasks. These could include:
- personal care
- walking the dog
Having a friendly face lend a helping hand is a pleasant and effective way to alleviate many potential fall risks.
If you or an aging loved one is considering elderly care in Columbus, MT, please contact the caring staff at SYNERGY HomeCare Billings today at 406-839-2390.