Our parents guided our first steps, making sure we were safe and catching us when we fell. As we get older, our roles often change, and many adult children take on the role of being caregivers for their parents. Part of that role involves ensuring our parents’ physical safety, much like they ensured ours when we were growing up. Slips, trips, and falls are major risks for seniors, and family caregivers must constantly be on guard against them. Because our bodies become less robust as we age, a fall a young or middle-aged person could shrug off can cause serious injury to an older person.
We become more susceptible to falls as we age because we become less agile. Nearly a third of men and women over the age of 65 experience falls each year. While the majority of these incidents don’t cause serious injury, a substantial number of them do. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries for seniors and can have huge consequences for older adults and their families. Consider these statistics concerning senior falls:
- Every 11 seconds, a senior must receive treatment in an emergency room because of a fall. Every 19 minutes, a senior dies as a result of a fall.
- Each year, falls result in more than 2.8 million emergency room visits, more than 800,000 hospitalizations, and more than 27,000 deaths.
- About 60 percent of deaths associated with falls involve people aged 75 or older.
- On average, older adults who sustain falls requiring hospitalization stay in the hospital almost twice as long as seniors admitted to the hospital for any other reason.
- A quarter of all seniors who experience fractured hips resulting from falls die within six months of their injuries.
Understanding the Seriousness of Hip Fractures
One of the most serious injuries an older adult can sustain as a result of a fall is a hip fracture. As adults get older, their bones grow weaker and become more susceptible to fractures. For seniors with osteoporosis, a disease primarily affecting women, the risk is elevated. Nine of every ten hip fractures involve a person over the age of 65.
Hip fractures are a grave threat to seniors’ health. When seniors fracture their hips, there’s often a long recovery time, meaning months of physical inactivity. During that time of inactivity, seniors often lose physical agility and strength. The surgical treatment for hip fractures can also be risky for seniors in poor health, and complications such as blood clots and infections may occur. Hip fractures are also very difficult for older people to recover from, and about half of those who fracture their hips will need to use canes or walkers for the remainder of their lives.
Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality home care. Castle Rock families trust Home Care Assistance to help their elderly loved ones age in place safely and comfortably.
Proactive thinking on the part of family caregivers can go a long way toward preventing slips and falls among seniors. By minimizing fall risks in your parent’s home, you can prevent your loved one from experiencing a potentially serious injury. Here are some of the best practices for removing potential causes of slips and falls from a senior’s home:
- Encourage exercise – Seniors who are physically active are likely to have better coordination and stronger muscles in their lower bodies, making them less likely to fall. Find age-appropriate activities for your loved one to participate in to maintain physical abilities.
- Install easy-access light switches – Walking into a dark room puts your loved one at elevated risk for sustaining a fall. By placing light switches at the entries to all rooms in the home, you can ensure your parent never has to walk into a dark room.
- Replace loose tiles or floorboards – Even small variations in flooring can cause a senior to fall. Make your parent’s home safer by ensuring the floor is stable and level.
- Secure loose area rugs – While decorative, area rugs can pose a tripping hazard if they’re not securely attached to the floor. You can use double-sided tape or tacks to keep an area rug firmly secured to the floor.
- Keep coffee tables, end tables, ottomans, and other furniture out of high-traffic areas – These pieces of furniture can pose a tripping hazard if your loved one doesn’t see them in the way.
- Make the shower safe – Install handrails in the shower and along the walls near the shower. Also, place a rubber mat or nonskid adhesive strip inside the shower or tub.
- Install nightlights – Installing nightlights in hallways and bathrooms can help seniors avoid falling at night.
- Consider a medical alert service – If your parent lives alone, it could be hours or more before someone is notified if he or she falls. A medical alert bracelet or pendant allows your loved one to immediately notify paramedics if he or she falls and becomes immobilized.
- Make sure there are adequate railings on stairs – Stairs and steps can be perilous for seniors, particularly outside steps made of wood or stone. To help your parent better maintain balance when ascending or descending, install guardrails on each side of the steps or stairway.
- Keep extension cords out of high-traffic areas – Extension cords can easily trip seniors. Make your parent’s home safer by keeping extension cords out of commonly used pathways.
- Get rid of clutter – Reducing clutter can lower the likelihood of falls. Give your loved one’s home a good spring cleaning and get rid of unneeded items.
Hiring a professional caregiver is one of the many ways you can reduce your loved one’s risk of falls. If your senior loved one needs help managing an illness or assistance with daily tasks, make sure you choose a top-rated provider of elder care. Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one live a happier and healthier life in the golden years. From the mentally stimulating activities in our Cognitive Therapeutics Method to our friendly Care Managers who are available to answer your questions 24 hours a day, we offer a wide array of high-quality at-home care services.
Talking about Fall Prevention with Your Loved One
Occasionally, when trying to make things safer or easier for our parents, we can become overbearing and fail to recognize their autonomy as adults. This can lead to strain in your relationship and foster resentment and noncompliance from your loved one. Before making changes in the home to enhance safety, you should discuss the situation with your parent.
Before having the conversation, think about what you want to say and the best way to present the matter. Make sure to have facts about seniors and falls on hand to present as justification for why you’d like to make modifications to your parent’s home and daily routines. When you talk with your loved one, explain the changes you wish to make and how they can boost safety and independence. If the conversation becomes tense, take a break rather than letting it turn into an argument. If you can get your parent on board with these changes, your relationship can be strengthened, and your loved one might be more enthusiastic about practicing safe habits.
Finding Help with Caring for Your Parent
Providing care for an aging parent presents a challenge for many people, especially if they have busy careers or are part of the “sandwich generation”—the generation of adults responsible for providing care for their own children and their elderly parents at the same time. Home caregivers can take over many caregiving responsibilities and provide highly professional care for older adults. Hiring a home caregiver is often less expensive than moving a loved one to an assisted living facility, and it can take a lot of the emotional and physical burden off family caregivers.
An increased risk of falls is one of the many challenges seniors may have to face. For many seniors in Castle Rock, live-in care is an essential component of aging in place safely and comfortably. However, it’s important for them to have caregivers they can trust and rely on. At Home Care Assistance, we extensively screen all of our live-in and 24-hour caregivers and only hire those who have experience in the senior home care industry. Our strict requirements ensure seniors can remain in the comfort of home with a reduced risk of injury or serious illness. To learn about our quality-assured services, give us a call at 720-580-5378 today.