It’s a sobering statistic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three older adults over age 65 falls each year, but less than half are expected to bring their accident to the attention of a healthcare provider.
“A fall by an older adult is a warning sign as it is typically considered a symptom of another issue,” said Dr. Carolyn Clevenger of Emory University, president-elect of the Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association (GAPNA).
As people age, they may feel the effects of natural aging. They could experience stiff joints, poor eyesight and decreased muscle strength along with poor balance. These effects, along with chronic conditions, can increase their potential risk of falling.
Think about your senior’s environment and consider these tips:
· Remove clutter from pathways.
· Arrange furniture to make rooms easy to navigate.
· Allow enough space to walk around furniture.
· Remove or secure throw rugs.
· Encourage seniors to wear shoes with non-slip soles.
· Ask seniors to avoid walking in stocking feet on wood floors.
· Organize the house so items used most frequently are at waist level, minimizing the need to bend or climb.
· Apply high-contrast colored tape to the top and bottom of stairs and thresholds.
· Use a night-light and/or leave a light on in the bathroom and stairways, to help reduce the risk of falls in the dark.
· Encourage seniors to use handrails.
· Allow plenty of time for activities and tasks.
One potential problem for older adults is inactivity. Lack of exercise can lead to weak legs and this factor can increase the older adult’s potential chance of falling. Exercise programs such as Tai Chi can help to increase strength and improve balance, making falls less likely.