Because people of advancing age experience a decline in muscle strength, mobility, and vision, the looming threat of falling – and the injuries associated with falls – may be ever present. Throughout the day, there are many situations that put a senior at risk of a fall, whether climbing stairs, getting out of a car, or even just stepping off of a curb. But here’s the good news: in many instances, falls can be prevented or minimized. Here’s how.
Adequate hydration. The importance of staying hydrated is critical not only to the overall health of seniors, but also to physical stability. Dehydration can cause urinary tract infections (UTIs) which can drastically change behaviors. A UTI can cause a loved one to become disoriented, confused, or irritable, which can mimic signs of dementia, creating concern or confusion for friends and family. To avoid dehydration, experts recommend drinking 9-12 cups of water per day.
Use adequate lighting. Some falls are caused due to simply not being able to see what caused the fall in the first place. Adding a few extra lamps in dark spaces can help.
Wear proper shoes. Secure, well-fitting shoes with non-skid soles can help you walk more confidently and avoid slips and falls. However, nonskid soles also present somewhat of a danger walking on carpet, so remember that these soles do not completely remove the risk of falling.
Secure rugs and remove obstacles. While a throw rug can add visual interest to a room, it also adds a safety risk. If you use rugs, be sure to fasten them to the floor, such as with carpet tape. Also clear your walking paths of any clutter, electrical cords, or small decorative items that can become tripping hazards.
Install assistive bars. Residents at Brazos Towers already enjoy assistive bars where they need them, such as in bathrooms and along hallways. Residents can customize placement of grab bars in their new homes. And of course, hand rails are provided throughout the community to provide confidences for residents and visitors alike. Seniors living on their own may want to have them installed in areas of the home that are hardest to navigate. Installing grab bars in bathrooms, beside toilets and bathtubs will always help seniors feel more secure in those locations.
Avoid walking on slippery or unlevel surfaces. If a floor surface looks slippery, damaged, or unlevel, it’s best to avoid walking on it if you can. Fortunately for our senior population, we take great care to ensure all floor surfaces in our retirement community are slip-resistant and well maintained.
Make sure your medication is right for you. Some falls can be caused by medications – either as a side effect or as an indicator that the dosage is wrong for you. You may also have undiagnosed or under-treated conditions causing the problem. If you have experienced a sudden loss of balance or lightheadedness, ask your doctor to review your medications with you.
Get your hearing and vision checked. Making sure you can see and hear your best is a great way to prevent falls, many of which are caused by not seeing or hearing the things around us.
Keep up your health and strength. Staying active and exercising to preserve mobility and strength is another great way to help you avoid falls. Here at Brazos Towers, our residents enjoy access to fitness facilities, swimming, and exercise opportunities to help them stay in the best health possible.
Know your limits. If you’ve experienced a fall – or nearly have – make adjustments to your daily routine and surroundings. Adopt the use or a cane or walker if it will help you. Accept help from family and friends. Take your time. None of these will limit your quality of life – but can rather enhance it by helping you avoid fall injuries. Remember to slow down, take your time and try not to rush. Being more aware and deliberate can help you get the balance you need before making quick movements.