Many elderly Americans live with a fear of falling, and for good reason. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), during an average year 2.8 million seniors are injured in falls. This results in 800,000 hospitalizations and over 27,000 fatalities. Furthermore, the CDC reports that the annual likelihood of an elderly person sustaining a serious fall, at home or elsewhere, is 1 in 3.
And when you’re caring for an older at-home loved one, a fear of falling can interfere with their ability to continue aging in place. Fortunately, there are several proven ways to help them overcome their fears.
Why do Seniors Worry About Falling?
Once the average person reaches age 55, physiological changes occur in their body that alter their balance and coordination. Those alterations can cause falling, and especially when a senior has a health condition, or is taking medication, that further compromise their balance. Dementia and Alzheimer’s can also adversely affect balance and coordination. And, many seniors, out of pride or not wanting to be a “burden”, won’t tell their adult children that their fear of falling is interfering with their normal daily activities.
Reliable Ways to Help Seniors Overcome Their Fears
The first step is to have an open and honest conversation with your loved one about the concern of falling. Share with them what you know about fall prevention, and that you’d like to help alleviate their fears because you love and care for them. Once you’ve discussed the topic, here are some reliable ways to make them feel more comfortable, while also putting your mind at-ease:
Have Their Balance Tested
Ask their doctor or a physical therapist to conduct a balance assessment on them. If they pass with flying colors, it will give you both a renewed peace-of-mind. If they fail the assessment, it might be time to purchase them an assistive device like a cane or walker. In either case, having a senior’s balance checked annually is wise.
Encourage Them to Exercise
Speak with your loved one about taking a senior-focused exercise class like Yoga, chair aerobics, or Tai Chi. These exercises are low impact ways to improve balance and coordination. They also assist in reducing stress and anxiety, increasing flexibility, strengthening muscles, and helping them get a better night’s sleep.
“Fall-Proof” Their Home
Walk around their home and eliminate trips hazards. Bathrooms are notorious danger zones, so look for obstacles like throw rugs, step stools, and tubs. Add grab bars where needed, along with a shower transfer bench. You may also want to consider a walk-in shower stall with anti-skid pads or strips. Elsewhere in the home, make sure walkways are clear, and that the stairs and steps are well-lit. Make sure to make the outside of their home “fall-proof” too.
Avoid Ice and Snow
A senior with poor balance shouldn’t be shoveling snow on icy surfaces. Ice-induced falls during the wintertime are common for seniors, resulting in numerous broken hips and arms. Volunteer to shovel their snow, or hire someone reliable. In addition, if your loved one has an important appointment on a snowy day, make sure that you join them while lending an arm for walking support.
Get Them a Fall Alert Device
We’ve all seen the “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” ads for Life Alert. Studies have found that the faster emergency personnel respond after a fall occurs, the less likely a senior will require hospitalization or rehab in a nursing home. As a result, one of the best confidence-restoring actions you can take for an older loved one is purchasing them a fall alert device.
In addition to Life Alert (www.lifealert.com), there are numerous suppliers and wearable fall alert gadgets now available that seniors can use to promptly notify first responders. Many of them use GPS tracking, and look like watches or jewelry pendants to seamlessly incorporate into any wardrobe.
In-Home Fall Prevention for Seniors Is Our Specialty
If you have an aging loved one that has a fear of falling, it’s probably also a concern for you. When you’re trying to serve as a long-distance caregiver, or are simply too busy managing your own household, call the fall prevention specialists at Cranberry Home Care. Our thoroughly screened and highly trained aides are experts at helping seniors overcome their fear of falling. They also assist with ensuring your loved one’s safety and wellbeing using proven fall prevention methods.
While in your loved one’s home, our family trusted home care services also include light housekeeping, personal hygiene, meal preparation, medication reminders, transportation and companionship; all delivered in an affordable and flexible package to put your mind at-ease! For a FREE in-home consultation, or to learn more about the senior home care services we offer in the Middleboro, MA, area, please visit Cranberry Home Care today at: www.cranberryhomecare.com.
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