Fall Prevention Tips for Seniors and Their Families

September 5, 2018

Falls Free: National Council on Aging

Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries among older adults. In honor of Fall Prevention Awareness Day, we share tips to keep seniors safe.

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) has once again designated the first day of fall, September 22, as Falls Prevention Awareness Day. The day is designed to shine light on how dangerous falls are for older adults, what the most common causes are, and how caregivers and loved ones can help a senior lower their risk.

From a sedentary lifestyle to poor lighting in the home and medication side effects, here’s what seniors and caregivers should know.

Learn the Facts about Falls and Older Adults

The statistics on older adults and falls are shocking. According to NCOA, falls continue to be the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among seniors. Each year, one in four adults over the age of 65 will experience a fall. Every 11 seconds an older adult is treated for a fall in an emergency room, which adds up to 2.5 million seniors a year.

Research also shows:

  • Seniors don’t always tell: While reports show that one in four older adults will fall each year, experts say the true number is likely one in three. The difference is that many seniors don’t tell their family or their physician they’ve experienced a fall because they are afraid they will be forced to give up their independence.
  • Repeated fall risk: Once an older adult experiences a fall, they are likely to fall again. In fact, two-thirds of older adults who fall once will fall again within six months.
  • Serious injuries: Head injuries and broken bones are two of the most common injuries seniors experience as the result of a fall. Specifically, injuries often include a traumatic brain injury (TBI), concussion, hip fracture, broken arm, or broken wrist.
  • Danger of a broken hip: Hip fractures are especially dangerous for older adults. Studies show that 20% of seniors who break a hip will die within one year. 95% of hip fractures are the result of a fall.

Contrary to popular belief, falling isn’t a normal part of aging. Many falls among seniors can be prevented if risk factors are identified and addressed.

5 Common Reasons Older Adults Experience a Fall

  1. Sedentary lifestyle: While it might seem counterintuitive, avoiding activity can increase the risk for falls. Seniors who are concerned they might fall may cut back on their physical activity. Doing so can lead to weaker muscles, decreased stamina, and poor balance. Each can raise the risk of falling. The “Live Well” program at all Legacy Senior Living communities offers residents enjoyable ways to stay active at every age.
  2. Home hazards: Falls around the home, especially in the bathroom, account for the majority of injuries older adults experience. From poor lighting to tough-to-access bathtubs, older homes aren’t usually designed with a senior in mind. An occupational therapist can be a good resource for help conducting a safety assessment of an older adult’s home.
  3. Medication side effects: Some medications are known to have side effects that can increase the risk for falls. Drowsiness, dehydration, and dizziness are a few to look for when reviewing a senior’s medication list. If you have any doubts about whether your loved one’s medications might put them at higher risk for a fall, review their prescription and over-the-counter medication lists with the pharmacist.
  4. Vision loss: Another reason an older adult might fall is vision problems. Outdated glasses, cataracts, glaucoma, and other types of eye disease can all contribute to falls. Ophthalmologists recommend older adults have an annual eye exam to identify and intervene in potential problems early.
  5. Poor nutrition: A poor diet can lead to muscle atrophy, a weakened immune system, and balance problems. These all contribute to a fall. A well-balanced diet should be a part of every fall prevention plan.

Assisted living communities can often help seniors lower their risk for falls. From a thoughtfully-designed environment to healthy meals, contact us today to learn more about fall prevention programs at Legacy communities.