Aging at Home & Fall Prevention
The strain on public resources for healthcare is going to continue to climb significantly. In an effort by government to cut healthcare costs, we’re already seeing: reduced time spent in hospital, fewer public LTC beds available, and more expensive private Assisted Living/Retirement facilities. Aging at home is quickly becoming the only option for many. More often than not, the primary caregiver is a family member. By staying healthy and active, that aging consumer will have fewer doctor/hospital visits, which will lead to a reduced strain on the healthcare system.
Falls is the leading cause of injury related visits to emergency rooms across Canada. The fastest growing group represents 12.6% of the population. 35-40% of adults 65+ in good health fall at least once per year. Falls is the primary cause of deaths in people over the age of 65. In people 65+, falls are cause of death in 75% of incidences. Falls are also the second leading cause of spinal cord and brain injury in the older population.
Fracture is the most serious injury associated with falls. 87% of falls result in a fracture for people over the age of 65. Common fractures: Hip, Pelvis, Spine, Hand, and Wrist.
Hip fractures likely to require 10 day to 2 weeks hospitalization. It affects personal independence. It results in admittance to rehab facility or nursing home. 50% of people who suffer from hip fracture can no longer live independently while 25% die within 6 months of the injury.
Things You Need To Know
Aging often causes changes in: Vision, Hearing, Reflexes, Coordination, and Strength • Progression of chronic illnesses: – Diabetes – Heart disease – Arthritis • Acute events: – Heart attack – Stroke.
Four Things You Can Do To Prevent Falls:
While changes in eyesight and hearing often cannot be stopped, nor a heart attack or stroke foreseen, there are measures that can be taken to help prevent falls.
1. Begin a regular exercise program
Makes you stronger & feel better
Lack of exercise leads to weakness, increasing the chance for falls.
2. Review Your Medicines
Always check with your pharmacist/doctor. As we age, the way medicine works in our bodies changes. Some medicines or combinations of medicines can cause fatigue or dizziness.
3. Have your vision checked
Conditions like glaucoma or cataracts can limit your vision.
Poor vision increases the chances of falling.
4. Make your home safer
50%of all falls happen at home
Remove things you can trip over from stairs and places where you walk (like books, clothes & shoes)
Remove small throw rugs or use double sided tape to keep the rugs from slipping
Keep items you use often in cabinets you can reach easily without using a step stool
Improve the lighting in your home
Hang light weight curtains or shades to reduce glare
Wear shoes both inside and outside the house – avoid going barefoot or wearing slippers
Britain's Queen Mother suffered a slight fall and cut her arm.
Assistive Devices that Help to Prevent Falls:
Transfer Devices, Walkers, Raised Toilet Seats, Toilet Safety Frames, Grab Bars, Tub Bars, Shower Chairs, Bath Lifts
Falling. If you are an older adult, or care about one, it’s probably one of your greatest fears. And it’s not unfounded. About 12 million older Americans—that’s 1 in 3—fall every year. Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries in older adults and more than half of all falls happen in the home.
Injuries caused by falls can include lacerations, hip fractures, head traumas and more. Many of these injuries lead to a loss of physical mobility and independence. They can also have psychological effects, creating fear that leads to inactivity, which leads to poorer physical and psychological health, and ultimately a reduction in quality of life.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Simple measures can reduce the risk of falling and help older adults retain more mobility and independence well into their later years.
Top 3 risk factors for falls
Some risk factors for falling include:
Medication – Many older adults take medications, and some of these (including over-the-counter medications) can cause dizziness or impaired balance. It is important to review medications regularly with your doctor, and be on the alert for side effects that can increase the risk of falling.
2. Vision problems – Not wearing necessary glasses can contribute to falls. Also, progressive lenses or bi/trifocals can be a problem on stairs. Keeping up with regular eye care and keeping eyeglass prescriptions current is essential.
3. Household hazards – Slick floors, poorly lit stairwells, loose rugs, and clutter can all contribute to falling at home. It’s a good idea to replace burnt out bulbs right away, and put non-slip mats or tape under area rugs. Keeping the floors clear of clutter goes a long way towards reducing the risk of tripping. The bathroom, with its slippery hard surfaces, can be particularly dangerous.
Do you know the top 3 risk factors for falls?
Mobility devices can help prevent falls
Although it often happens, limiting activity is not the answer to keeping older adults safe from falls. Physical activity helps maintain muscle strength and range of motion, and social activities are important for emotional health. In addition to making necessary modifications in the home, assistive devices can help make walking safer and steadier.
For a person who is able to walk but is no longer steady and secure, a cane offers much-needed stability and confidence. When choosing a cane, make sure the length fits properly, allowing for a slight bend in the elbow. A cane that’s too long is hard to use, and a cane that’s too short can make the user more unsteady.
Walkers and rollators
A walker or rollator is an excellent choice for someone who needs more stability than a cane can offer. The four legs and two-handed grip make walkers very steady and reliable. These devices have come a long way in recent years with improved appearance and a host of comfort and safety features.
The Nitro rollator, a sophisticated Euro-design rollator, has large 10” front casters to make steering easier and more comfortable. It adjusts easily to users of different heights and easily folds to ultra-compact size for storage. With a durable, comfortable seat and a removable zippered storage bag, this rollator can make it easier to get around, rest when necessary, and carry things.
The Clever-Lite walker features front wheels that can swivel or remain fixed in position, depending on the user’s needs. The Loop Lock feature allows the user to lock and unlock the wheels without letting go of the hand grips and without bending. Easy to fold and weighing only 14 pounds, the Clever-Lite walker is convenient to use in the home or take along on outings.
It’s obvious that falls can occur while a person is walking, but it’s far from the only time. Standing and reaching for items on high shelves or down very low can also lead a person to lose balance and fall. A reacher is a simple device that can make a big difference. The Drive Hand Held Reacher extends the user’s reach by 32 inches, weighs only 5.4 ounces, has an easy-to-use trigger, and includes a magnet at the tip for picking up metal items.
Installing grab bars in the bathtub can make the difference between a peaceful shower and a frightening ordeal. Drive manufactures grab bars that can be installed permanently as well as models with heavy-duty suction cups that install and remove easily.
If you have a loved one who you feel is at risk of a fall, or who has already fallen, talk to them about taking steps to prevent future incidents. It can be hard to accept that help is needed, but when it comes to falls, prevention is truly the best strategy.