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Elderly Safety: Preventing Falls and Accidents

Elderly Safety: Preventing Falls and Accidents

Slip and fall accidents can happen to anyone, but falls are a leading cause of injury in older adults for a variety of reasons. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to significantly reduce your risk of falls and accidents, including home safety measures, exercise routines, and practical tips to lower your risk factors. 

In this article, you’ll learn about the primary risk factors for falls as well as simple changes you can make to minimize those factors, increase your safety, and prevent falls and accidents from impacting your active life. You’ll also find information about how many senior living communities, like BridgeWater Assisted Living, implement various strategies for fall prevention for elderly residents. 

Risk Factors for Falls

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), research has narrowed down the most common factors that contribute to falls to:

  • Certain medications like sedatives or tranquilizers
  • Changes in vision
  • Inadequate levels of vitamin D
  • Weakness or pain in the lower body or feet
  • Improper, ill-fitting, or low-quality footwear
  • Mobility and balance issues
  • Difficulty walking
  • Unsafe home elements like tripping hazards (e.g., unsecured rugs, cords, crowded furniture, clutter), uneven stairs, broken railings, slippery bathtubs, etc.

Although any of these factors can play a role in a fall, most falls result from a combination of risk factors. Thankfully, you can take many practical steps, outlined in the following article, to address any risk factors you or a loved one might have. 

Talk to Your Doctor

Consulting with a healthcare professional is always a good idea. When it comes to fall prevention strategies for the elderly, your doctor can review all your medications with you to identify any drug interactions or possible side effects you should be aware of, like dizziness or drowsiness. Ask about any alternative medications that are available or if simple changes like taking the medication with food or in the evening instead of the morning can reduce side effects.

Get Regular Eye Exams

Schedule eye exams at least once a year to have your vision checked. Make sure your glasses or contacts prescriptions are up-to-date. If you notice any changes in your vision, like blurring or halos, schedule an appointment to get your eyes checked immediately, even if you’re not due for your annual exam yet. Having the correct prescription and protecting your eye health by having a professional evaluate your eyes ensures you can navigate your environment safely.

Keep Moving

Staying active with regular exercise is one of the best ways to maintain mobility, strength, range of motion, flexibility, and balance. Exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous to be effective. Low-impact exercises such as walking, yoga, tai chi, swimming, and water aerobics are all excellent choices. 

Simple balance exercises you can do anywhere without any extra equipment are a great way to strengthen your lower body and core, which are essential to good balance. Adding these into your exercise routine will go a long way toward preventing falls due to a loss of balance.

Stay Hydrated and Get Your Vitamin D

Did you know that dehydration can lead to dizziness and muscle weakness? Drinking water throughout your day, especially after exercise, is one easy way to help keep your body balanced. 

Good nutrition is also vital to staying strong and active. Specifically, studies have shown that vitamin D is beneficial for muscle strength in the lower body, posture, balance, and in combating dizziness like vertigo. Although vitamin D supplements are readily available, you can also focus on increasing natural sources like sunlight, egg yolks, fatty fish like salmon, fortified cereals and breads, and orange juice.

Assess Your Home for Hazards

Carefully go through your home to identify any potential hazards; it can help to have a loved one conduct this assessment to catch anything you might miss. Clutter, cords, overcrowded furniture, unsecured throw rugs, uneven flooring or stairs, and poor lighting are some common tripping hazards you might look for. 

Once you’ve identified any areas that need attention, address them. Some fixes to consider include: 

  • Nightlights in hallways and bathrooms to increase visibility at night. 
  • Sturdy handrails on both sides of staircases, grab bars or seating in the shower or bathtub, and guard rails on beds can all be easy additions that provide additional support for standing and walking.
  • Rearranging or removing unnecessary furniture can make the home easier to navigate. 
  • Tape down or otherwise secure rugs and carpets to ensure they don’t slip or move unexpectedly. 

Upgrade Your Footwear

One of the easiest things you can do to minimize your fall risk is to ensure you have supportive, non-slip footwear that fit your feet well. The right shoes can have a positive impact on your balance and reduce any foot pain you might experience, which can also affect how you walk. Generally, it’s best to avoid high heels, narrow heels, shoes that are too loose or tight, shoes with smooth soles that lack traction, or laces that are too long.

Safety Measures in Senior Living Communities 

High-quality senior living communities, like BridgeWater Assisted Living, focus on the safety and satisfaction of their residents. Fall prevention for elderly residents comes in many forms, such as: 

  • Opportunities to stay physically active through exercise programs, social activities, and physical and occupational therapy
  • Delicious and nutritious meals that ensure strong bodies are supported through dining services 
  • Housekeeping services that help residents keep their apartments clean and clutter-free
  • 24-hour access to assistance with activities of daily living, as well as fall alarms and emergency monitoring systems in every apartment
  • Well-lit, spacious hallways, common areas, and apartments specifically designed for ease of movement

If you’re interested in learning more about the fall prevention safety measures that BridgeWater Assisted Living communities have in place and recommend, please browse through our website, call us, or schedule a tour to see us in person. We are happy to answer any questions and discuss how we might serve your family’s needs.