From our expert panel on aging

Preventing Falls Can Prevent Danger

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Tagged In: Assisted Living

Did you know that 20 to 30 percent of people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries? These injuries can make it hard to get around or live independently. Also, one in three adults age 65 and older fall each year, yet less than half talk to their healthcare providers. Last but not least, every 15 seconds across America, a senior citizen is sent to the E.R. for a fall-related injury.

“The chances of falling and being seriously injured during that fall significantly increase with age,” said Sharon Roth Maguire, MS, RN, GNP-BC, Chief Clinical Quality Officer of BrightStar Senior Living. “Identifying risk factors with your aging loved ones and taking precautionary measures will increase their longevity and provide peace of mind to families.”

Here are five causes of falls:

1. Impaired vision
Cataracts and glaucoma alter depth perception, visual acuity, peripheral vision and susceptibility to glare.

What’s the solution?

  • Add color and contrast to identify objects, such as grab bars and handrails.
  • Have your vision and hearing checked each year or any time you notice a change.

2. Home hazards
Most homes are full of falling hazards.

What’s the solution?

  • Remove or fix things you could trip over, such as raised doorway thresholds, throw rugs or loose carpet.
  • Add grab bars in the bathroom, and install proper railings on both sides of stairways.
  • Keep paths clear of electrical cords and clutter.
  • Use nonskid floor wax, and wipe up spills right away.
  • Keep your house well-lit. Use night-lights (or keep overhead light on at night) in hallways and bathrooms.
  • Put sturdy handrails on stairways. Make sure you have a light at the top and bottom of the stairs.
  • Store things on lower shelves so you don’t have to climb or reach high.

3. Medication
Many drugs (i.e. sedatives, anti-depressants) reduce mental alertness, affect balance and gait and cause drops in systolic blood pressure while standing. Mixing certain medications increases these effects, causing falls.

What’s the solution?

  • Have a care professional carefully monitor medications and interactions.
  • Know the side effects of the medicines you take. Ask your doctor if the medicines you take can affect your balance. For instance, sleeping pills and some medicines for anxiety can affect your balance.
  • If you take two or more medicines, talk to your doctor about how they work together. Sometimes combinations of medicines can cause dizziness or sleepiness. Either of these can lead to a fall.

4. Weakness, low balance
Weakness and lack of mobility leads to many falls.

What’s the solution?

  • Exercise regularly to boost strength and muscle tone. Practicing these each day can help you stay active and independent.
  • Wear low-heeled shoes that fit well and give your feet good support. Use footwear with nonskid shoes.
  • If you use a walker or cane, make sure it is fitted to you. If you use a cane, replace the rubber tip when it becomes worn.

5. Chronic conditions
Parkinson’s, heart disease, and other conditions increase the risk of falling.

What’s the solution?

  • Seek out specially-trained caregivers to ensure that patients follow their treatment plans, assist them to doctor appointments and recognize red flags.
  • If you live alone, think about wearing an alert device that will bring help in case you fall and can’t get up. Or carry a cordless or cell phone with you from room to room.

At BrightStar Senior Living, we take a unique approach to decreasing fall risk by pairing our unmatched clinical expertise with excellent Person-Centered Care. From general assisted living to advanced dementia and Alzheimer’s care, our industry-leading 1:6 manager to resident ratio allows us to focus on what matters most.

For more information on how BrightStar Senior Living can help you care for a loved one who might be at risk of falling, call Bonnie at 608-620-7900.

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