We face a higher risk of falling as we age because of a variety of factors, including compromised vision, balance and weakened muscles. The risk of falling among the elderly is more pronounced if they also suffer from a health condition. Every year, more than a quarter of all Americans aged 65 and over experience a fall, according to the NCOA (National Council on Aging) and the CDC.
While most falls are not serious, some may lead to serious injuries or even death; simply because seniors have very fragile bones. Furthermore, after a fall, the elderly are more likely to fall again. Lastly, falls are also known to cause a significant loss of confidence among seniors as well.
If you want to know what to do after you fall, you have come to the right place, read on below to find out more.
What Should You Do Immediately After Falling?
If you as a caregiver or family member witness an elderly loved one fall, it is essential that you act correctly and quickly.
For starters, if your aging loved one falls right in front of you, do not rush over and try to move them or help them up. Instead, take some time to reassure and calm them down as they are likely to be suffering from a mixture of shock and embarrassment. Ask them to take some deep breaths as a way of relaxing.
Reassuring seniors after a fall helps them know that they can still ask for help without looking weak and helpless.
As they are calming down, take a close look at their body, looking for any apparent signs of injury, such as swelling, bleeding and bruising among others. Call 911 if you spot any signs of injury. If everything seems okay, ask them whether they feel any pain or discomfort in any part of their body.
If they feel ok, you can then proceed to helping them up. Note that this does not mean lifting them up. You should guide your loved one up, while allowing them to do most of the work. If they suddenly experience any discomfort or are simply unable to stand up from the ground, call 911.
When helping a senior to stand up after a fall, it is best not to do it alone as you never know if they can actually do it. You risk dropping them, further aggravating any injuries, or injuring yourself if you are unable to support their weight.
Consider devices that lift the elderly up off the floor after a fall. They can save your back and many of them can even be used independently by seniors who live alone!
When Should You Seek Medical Attention After You Fall?
It is recommended that you seek medical attention immediately after a fall. There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, a visit to the doctor’s office will help uncover any hidden injuries; especially those that may take longer to show up. Secondly, the doctor will investigate whether the cause of the fall is health related.
Any discoveries made during a hospital visit will play a crucial role in determining your approach to the prevention of future falls.
Identify The Cause Of Your Fall
There are many causes of falls among seniors; ranging from a weakened body and poor health right down to your surroundings. Identifying what caused your fall will help you and your caregiver come up with solutions that can significantly reduce your risk of falling in future.
As previously mentioned, our vision normally deteriorates with age. Vision problems in the elderly can also be caused by various health problems. With weakened vision, it is harder for aging individuals to see fall and slip hazards, including thresholds, steps and slippery surfaces or patches.
When you are unable to see objects in your path or perceive changes in ground level, you face a higher risk of falling. Your risk of falling also increases when you fail to follow treatment instructions provided by your physician in relation to resolving your eyesight issues, like wearing glasses.
Poor Physical Fitness
Weakened muscles are also another major cause of falls among seniors. Muscle weakness is a direct product of aging. Advanced age combined with reduced physical activity, leads to an increased rate of muscle deterioration. In fact, in addition to weaker muscles, seniors may also develop weaker bones and experience flexibility, coordination and balance issues if they fail to engage in mild regular physical exercises.
Seniors who live in their homes face a higher risk of falling. Home environments have a variety of fall hazards. Some of the main causes of falls at home include slippery floors such as vinyl and wood, poorly lit surroundings, cluttered spaces, upended carpets, loose rugs and unsuitable furniture items among others. As you can see, what might seem like a normal home environment for most people may actually be quite risky when it comes to seniors.
While medications are meant to improve your health by treating various health problems, they may also increase your risk of falling.
Seniors who take a variety of medications, including anti-depressants, opioids and sedatives among others, face an elevated risk of falling. Some of the main side effects, such as low blood pressure, dizziness and drowsiness, caused common medications increase your risk of getting into an accident that can lead to a fall.
If you use multiple drugs at the same time, you are at a higher risk of falling as a result of interactions between the medications. These risks are applicable to both prescription and over the counter drugs as well as some supplements. It is also worth noting that you might be at risk of falling whenever you change your medications.
As I had previously mentioned at the beginning of this article, seniors who also suffer from various health conditions face a higher risk of falling. In addition to increasing your risk of falling, compromised health may also make it harder for you to react when you encounter slip and fall hazards.
Arthritis, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s are some of the common health conditions affecting seniors. They may cause numbness in the extremities, cognitive impairment, balance issues and weaken the strength of your grip, all of which increases your likelihood of falling.
How to Reduce the Chance of Falling Again
Seniors face a higher chance of falling again, after a fall. Furthermore, a fall can reduce a person’s confidence. Fortunately, by reducing the chances of this happening again, you can restore your aging loved one’s confidence and independence.
Some of the ways to reduce the chances of falling again include:
See The Doctor
Caregivers should ensure that seniors visit the doctor immediately after a fall. While seniors might be tempted to hide such occurrences from their physicians, it is essential that they share every detail of what happened. The doctor can then evaluate them and run various tests to ascertain whether the fall was caused by a health condition.
Caregivers should also make sure that seniors have their eyes examined by a qualified eye specialist at least once a year to ensure that any vision issues are discovered and addressed as soon as possible.
Create A Safer Home Environment
Making sure that your surroundings, at home, are safe is also important when it comes to preventing future falls. With that in mind, be sure to inspect the home and make all the necessary adjustments that can help prevent falls. You can start by clearing any clutter around the house; and where necessary the appropriate type of furniture, such as chairs that make for easier egress, should be purchased. Furthermore, handrails should be installed on both sides of the stairs, grab bars installed next to the toilet as well as inside and outside the tub.
Any loose or upended carpets should be secured to the floor, especially over slippery floors, and additional lights installed in poorly lit spaces.
Improve Physical Fitness
Boosting your physical fitness will also play an important role in ensuring that you live a fall free life from this point onwards. Practice regular physical exercises that boost your balance in addition to strengthening your muscles and bones.
In addition to exercising, seniors should also consume a proper diet to ensure that their bodies get all the nutrients they need for strong muscles and bones.
Find Out More About Your Medication
If you are already on any medication, take the time to consult your physician and pharmacist about their side effects as well as interactions with each other as well as any other over the counter medications and supplements.
Wear The Right Shoes
To avoid slipping, and subsequently falling, when walking on slippery surfaces, be sure to wear the right pair of shoes. The best shoes should have non-skid rubber soles and low heels. Most importantly, avoid walking around in slippers or socks, especially on slippery floors.
Seniors live in fear of falling. However, after a fall this fear might be even more pronounced, causing them to be less physically active; something that significantly affects their quality of life. Being less physically active also means that seniors may be less willing to exercise, leading to muscle loss, further increasing their risk of falling!
Knowing what to do after a fall not only helps seniors retain their confidence and independence, but also reduces the likelihood of aggravating any injuries that they may have sustained. Visiting the doctor immediately after a fall ensures that any hidden injuries are discovered and treated. Furthermore, any health related causes that may have led to the fall can be investigated and treated; thus helping reduce the chances of falling again.
All in all, it is clear from the above that knowing what to do after a fall can help you overcome the fear of falling by ensuring that you take the necessary measures to reduce the risk of future falls.