By Dr. Macie Smith
Part of aging is recognizing that when it comes to falls, we may not get up like we used to. We have less muscle mass, so we aren’t as strong. Our proprioceptors—the neurons in our muscles, tendons and ligaments that help us stay balanced—don’t work as well. We may take medications that make us drowsy, dizzy or lightheaded when we stand up too quickly.
These biological changes mean we are more susceptible to falls. But there are ways to safeguard your home to reduce the likelihood of taking a tumble. I strongly recommend taking the following precautions to reduce the risk of falling:
- In the bathroom, install grab bars (including in the shower), a raised toilet seat, a shower chair and a handheld shower head. Install a textured floor in the bathtub and shower, or use stickers as an alternative.
- Secure or remove all throw rugs.
- Maintain proper hydration to avoid becoming lightheaded.
- Maintain proper nutrition to avoid becoming disoriented.
- Keep your home brightly lit, particularly in hallways and stairways.
- Remove clutter.
- Monitor medication side effects and interactions, and discuss with your doctor alternatives that don’t cause drowsiness, lightheadedness, disorientation or confusion.
Preventing a fall is important because an initial fall can snowball into more serious issues such as:
- Chronic pain, which reduces mobility and flexibility
- Chronic inflammation, which can contribute to other serious medical conditions
- Neuropathy (loss of feeling or sensation), which can affect balance
- Decreased independence
- Increased risk of urinary tract infections due to lack of mobility
- Limitations to your social life due to accessibility concerns
- Depression and/or anxiety arising from any of the above
Clearly, this is not an all-inclusive list; however, following these tips will allow you to continue to live your lives to the fullest. Taking precautions now is the best way to reduce your risk of a fall in the future.
Dr. Macie P. Smith is a licensed gerontology social worker who is focused on helping families support their aging loved ones through long-term care. Specifically, Dr. Smith educates caregivers on how to care for seniors with dementia. She is an advocate for specialized care and assists others in finding a way to provide a better quality of life for individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Dr. Smith has dedicated over 22 years of her life working in gerontology and assisting families in finding personalized solutions for dementia care. For more articles by Dr. Macie Smith, go to https://synergyhomecare.com/blog/.
For more fall prevention tips, download SYNERGY HomeCare’s free Fall Prevention Guide.
SYNERGY HomeCare offers no obligation home assessments. Find a location near you or Contact us to learn how we can help identify fall risks and make recommendations to create a safer home environment.