Thinking about Mom or Dad taking a fall is a scary thought indeed—every year more than 2 million older adults are taken to the ER to be treated for fall related injuries. However, while approximately 1/3 of all Americans over the age of 65 will suffer a fall at some point in their life falling is certainly not an unavoidable part of getting older. You can help elderly parents reduce their risk of suffering a potentially dangerous accident by being aware of the top fall risks for seniors.
- Side Effects of Certain Medications Some prescription medication can have side effects like dizziness or confusion that can put Mom or Dad at an increased risk for a fall. Make sure to speak with your parent’s doctor about any concerns you may have related to a medication’s side effects.
- Interactions between Medications Just as a single medication can have unwanted side effects for seniors, medications can interact with each other, causing side effects like dizziness, lightheadedness, or unsteadiness. Make sure that each member of your parent’s senior care team knows about all medications—both prescription and over-the-counter—that he or she is currently taking to avoid undesirable interactions.
- Low Blood Pressure Many older adults often experience a sudden drop in blood pressure when they have been lying down or sitting for a time. This condition, called postural hypotension, can lead to dizzy spells and unsteadiness. Health problems such as dehydration, diabetes, or Parkinson’s disease can contribute to postural hypotension. Help your elderly parent combat this by ensuring he or she gets up and down slowly and has proper support bars to assist.
- Lack of Muscle Tone Seniors with weak muscles, especially in the legs, are more prone to falling. Help your loved one stay fit by encouraging participation in low impact physical activities that focus on building strength and stability like tai chi or yoga.
- Poor Balance Arthritis, certain neurological diseases, and other chronic conditions can cause poor balance, but getting regular, low-impact exercise can help an elderly adult improve his or her balance.
- Arthritis In advanced stages, arthritis can have a dramatic impact on the flexibility and range of motion of a joint, making walking much more difficult. If Mom or Dad has arthritis, make sure you discuss care options with a primary care doctor. An expert may determine that medication, physical therapy, or a mobility aid may be medically necessary.
- Poor Eyesight As a senior gets older, it may become more difficult to see well in dark or twilight conditions. To combat falls associated with not being able to see well, ensure that your parent’s home is well lit and has conveniently located light switches. If Mom or Dad suffers from other vision problems like poor depth perception, cataracts, or glaucoma that can cause falls or other accidents, you may want to consult a senior care professional about everyday adaptations you can make to help with these conditions.
- Clutter Clutter in the home, including loose rugs on the stairs or unsecured cords, can pose a tripping hazard. Use tape, tacks, or non-slip backing to secure rugs to slick surfaces. Tape down cords or wires that may present tripping hazards.
- Slippery or Uneven Flooring Slippery flooring like linoleum in the kitchen or wet tile in the bathroom can be a challenge to navigate. Uneven flooring—such as broken sidewalks or aged hardwood floors—can present a tripping hazard. Take a walk through your parent’s home to see where you could install a non-slip mat or nail down that loose pesky floorboard to make getting around a little bit easier.
- Slick-soled or Ill-Fitting Footwear Comfortable, functional shoes are important for everyone, but they become even more so for seniors who are at an increased fall risk. Help your loved one choose footwear that has non-slip soles, firm ankle support, and no heel.
Check out Harwell & Plant’s sites www.eyeoneldercare.com AND www.harwellplant.com !!! HARWELL & PLANT, ATTORNEYS. Paul Plant has been a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys since 2003.Harwell & Plant, 225 Mahr Ave. PO Box 399, Lawrenceburg, TN 38464 (931)762.7528