Helping to Reduce the Chance of a Senior Fall

Published by Stephen on December 26, 2009 Under fall prevention

Elderly falls are very serious and can carry with them a number of side effects, which have a major impact on the life of the elderly. There are many factors that cause falls, but often it is the work of a combination medical conditions, such as arthritis and glaucoma, which make it much more difficult for the senior to safely navigate their living environment.

Preventing these types of senior falls is very important and involves identifying the risk factors that are present in the seniors living area, mitigating the risk, and evaluating the medical factors of the senior.

Identifying Safety Risk

When identifying risks, there are a number of factors that are common and can typically be easily mitigated. This includes things like loose rugs and improper lighting, which can present very serious fall risks, yet are relatively easy to fix. In addition to preventing obvious risks, such as slippery bathroom floors, it is also important to make an effort to make the daily living activities easier for the senior.

Some common daily living activities include cooking food and watching television. Both of which do not directly cause falls, but can be leading factors in senior injuries.

For example, if the senior is unable to easily operate their television, they may be inclined to stand in front of the TV pushing buttons, increasing the risk that a fall could occur while changing the channel or getting up every few minutes to adjust the volume. In the kitchen, not being able to safely reach all the necessary dishes or food items also causes risks, especially if the senior decides to use some sort of stepping stool to reach into the higher cupboards.

So, when identifying risks, it is essential to not only look at the obvious factors, such as the staircase, but also look at the daily activities of the senior in a semi-abstract manner, identifying all factors that might lead up to a fall or other injury.

Mitigating the Safety Risks in the Home

Once factors that increase the risk of a fall have been identified, it is important to reduce the chance that a fall will occur. This is sometimes very straightforward, such as ensuring the senior has a good pair of non-skid rubber sole shoes, a quality walker, and that all areas have easy to use quality lighting.

It is also sometimes necessary to use certain types of home medical equipment, such as stair lifts, which are devices that carry a senior safely up the stairs. These devices can greatly improve safety and allow the senior to continue to independently use their living area.

However, some of the other risk factors require a more creative approach. For example, in the case of a senior who likes to watch TV, but is unable to use the remote, a good place to start is to invest in a large easy to see remote, with limited buttons.

Since even having only a few buttons can still be quite difficult for some seniors to use, so consider using a knife to remove all of the buttons on the remote, except the channel, volume, and power controls. The place where the other buttons once were can then be taped over and the remote Velcroed to the arm of their sitting chair. Another similar approach is to place the chair close to the television, which is sometimes necessary anyway for seniors with limited vision, and using a stiff piece of paper or cardboard, cover all but the necessary buttons on the television.

Evaluating Medical Factors That Affect the Senior

Understanding and evaluating the medical factors that effect the senior are also important, as these can help pinpoint what types of activities might cause discomfort or increase the risk of a fall. For example, a senior with osteoarthritis in their hands might not be able to safely grip their walker or use a handrail when using the stairs. Similarly, knee or hip problems can also make it difficult for the senior to stand or sit, as well as causing complications when using the stairs. Limited vision can also prove to be quite dangerous, increasing the likelihood of a senior fall.

By evaluating the medical condition of the senior, you be able to better pinpoint potential trouble areas and activities in the home.

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