Is Your Parent at Risk for a Fall?

Did you know that falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of hospital visits among older adults? According to the The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of three people older than 65 fall each year.

If you’re taking care of your parent, here’s what you need to know to prevent falls.

Risk Factors for Falls

According to The National Council on Aging these factors can put a person at risk for falls:

  • An already unsteady gait
  • Medications that cause dizziness or sleepiness
  • Poor or decreasing vision
  • Chronic conditions such as diabetes, stroke or arthritis that result in weakness and pain in the legs, hips, feet and back
  • An unsafe or messy living environment
  • Not being able to navigate the bathtub or shower

How to Prevent Falls

If you want to help your loved one lower their risk for falls, spend the day with him or her and watch how they navigate their daily activities and where they have trouble. Make a note of what you see around the home, keeping a particular eye out for ways to improve safety.

Follow this prevention check-list:

  • Remove or secure loose rugs and all cords, wires and thresholds that could pose tripping hazards.
  • Consider your parent’s path to the bathroom at night.
  • Add handrails where your parent has trouble walking or standing and make sure all hand rails are secure.
  • Repair or remove any broken or insecure furniture such as a rocking chair.
  • Throw away any slippery or ill-fitting shoes and opt for those that fit securely and have non-slip soles.
  • Clear up any clutter or piles blocking hallways and doorways.
  • Be sure your parent can get in and out of the shower or bath unassisted (by doing a clothed trial test run) and, if not, get a bath transfer seat and watch a video to learn how to use it.

Look Into Medications

You should also read up on the side effects of any medications currently prescribed to see if any cause dizziness or sleepiness that might put your parent at further risk for falling.

Get Help from a Doctor

An appointment with a physical therapist for a professional assessment can reduce the risk for falls by providing a prescription for strengthening exercises, a cane, a walker or other devices, and other professional caregivers who can help.

Schedule an eye exam every year to make sure their current prescription is up to date and vision is clear. Talk to your parent and ask about whether she is feeling pain, stiffness or numbness in any of her extremities so you can talk with her doctor about other ways to keep your parent safe.

Advice or recommendations are for informational or educational purposes only, not a substitute for a visit or consultation with your doctor.

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