About 1/3 of seniors fall annually but some are more at risk of a fall than others.
Here are 6 factors to consider when assessing your aging loved ones likelihood of a fall.
Ambulation and continence- If your loved one is not able to ambulate relatively easily and has continence issues, their risk of a fall is elevated compared to those who ambulate without aides and are continent.
Vision status- How well can your loved one see? Do they have 20/20 vision, do they need vision correction but are hesitant to comply or are they legally blind? Obviously a senior who has trouble seeing is at a greater risk of falling. Also, make sure to have your aging loved ones vision checked annually. This will reduce their risk of a fall because of poor vision.
Gait and balance- is your loved one steady on his/her feet? Does he/she have any trouble with balance, especially when walking on changing surfaces like hard wood to carpet or cement to grass? If unsteadiness is a problem, consider the use of walking aides like a cane or walker to reduce the risk of falls.
Medications- Medications can play a major role in a person’s risk of falling. Medications like: anesthetics, antihistamines, cathartics, diuretics, antihypertensives, antiseizure, benzodiazepines, psychotropics, and sedative/hypnotics can all cause unsteadiness and dizziness which may result in a fall. Additionally, if your loved one is on more than one of these medications their risk of falling is increased. Changes in any medications cause side effects, one of which may be dizziness, or unsteadiness. To ensure medication changes do not result in a fall, take extra precautions for the first week after a medication change.
Predisposing diseases- Seniors who have any of the following conditions: hypertension, vertigo, CVA, Parkinson’s Disease, loss of limb(s), seizures, arthritis, osteoporosis, fractures are at an increased risk for a fall.
History- If your loved one has fallen once or more in the past three months they are at an increased risk of falling.
There are many simple things you can do around your aging loved ones home to make falls less likely. Some simple fixes include:
Using nightlights–especially in hallways, stairs and from your bedroom to your restroom
Installing grab bars in your restroom
Placing a nonskid rubber mat in the tub or shower
Wearing shoes with firm, nonskid, non-friction soles
Ensuring walkways are free of clutter