More than one-fourth of American seniors fall each year Knowing this statistic, you may be out researching fall prevention tips to help yourself or a loved one. Whoever or whatever the reason may be, there are fortunately many things you can do to prepare!
When it comes to preventing falls, many people only consider the physical aspects first: addressing muscle weakness, poor eyesight, and more; but some may not consider the effect the mind can have on fall prevention as well. After all, falls affect the physical, emotional, and social well-being of older adults.
At Monarch, we take a holistic view when it comes to our residents and seniors in general. We appreciate the entirety of an older individual. In turn, this recognition of their total being means looking at not just the physical but the mental side of fall prevention.
A holistic approach like this encompasses strengthening both the body and mind. Learn more below!
Common Causes and Risk Factors for Falls
Mind, body, and spirit all play a role in the overall health and well-being of aging adults. In order to prevent falls, it is important to first identify common reasons that might cause falls. Let’s take a look at the factors that increase the risk of a fall that may cause serious injuries like hip fractures, head injuries, and other fall injuries:
- Chronic health conditions - Health conditions and illnesses can also make it hard to get around safely. For example, arthritis can cause weakness, poor grip strength, or loss of balance; or orthostatic hypotension can cause blood pressure to drop suddenly upon standing, making the individual unsteady.
- Mental health conditions - Adults who have impaired mental status due to dementia, depression, mania, and anxiety are at higher risk for falls .
- Medications - A wide variety of medications can cause side effects; for example, blood pressure medication can cause drowsiness, dizziness, and low blood pressure which can all contribute to a tumble.
- Not enough physical activity - Many people become less active as they age, but when a person is less active, they become weaker, increasing their chances of falling. Failure to engage in even mild exercise on a regular basis is a leading cause of reduced muscle strength, decreased bone mass, loss of balance and coordination, and reduced flexibility — all making it easier to fall.
- Declining eyesight - Even if your loved one is in top physical health, vision problems or failing to see obstacles or changes in ground level can lead to a fall.
- Home hazards - Loose throw rugs, icy sidewalks, improper use of a walker or cane, poor lighting, clutter, slick floors, and lack of safety equipment can all put your loved one at risk of falling at home.
Older people rarely fall for only one single reason. Usually, there are several factors that contribute to a fall or to a person’s fall risk, but learning the risk factors your loved one is most prone to can help you personalize your approach to fall prevention.
How to Prevent Falls in the Elderly: A Holistic Approach
It’s not easy to talk about, but as you or a loved one gets older, physical, mental, and emotional changes can affect many different aspects of life — like driving, shopping, or doing household chores.
Fortunately, there are ways to empower seniors to focus on health and wellness while also lowering their risk of falls. Focusing on holistic health — body and mind — ensures you have a well-rounded plan for injury prevention.
Here’s a list of helpful ideas: Body
- Get a physical checkup each year. Ask the doctor or health care provider to evaluate the risk of falling and talk with them about specific things you can do.
- Wear well-fitting shoes with good support and nonskid soles — not house slippers. Get proper footwear recommendations from a doctor or foot specialist.
- Find out about the side effects of any medications you’re taking. Certain medicines can change your ability to get around safely.
- Take vitamin D supplements to improve bone, muscle, and nerve health.
- Make an appointment with the eye doctor. Even small changes in sight can cause a fall.
- Stay physically active. Healthy aging involves doing strength and balance activities at least three times a week to make muscles stronger and joints flexible.
- Don’t avoid the stairs. Mild weight-bearing activities, such as climbing stairs, may slow bone loss from osteoporosis.
- Ask a doctor for a referral to a physical therapist who can evaluate and recommend activities and ways to do them safely. Use a cane or walker if they are recommended.
- Keep emergency numbers in large print near each phone.
- Wear an alarm device that will call for help with a press of a button.
- Practice getting up off the floor. Being able to get up off the floor will reduce some anxiety as well as boost confidence. Bonus: It’s also good exercise for large muscle groups.
- Limit alcohol. Even a small amount of alcohol can affect balance and reflexes.
- Get the proper amount of sleep, because if you’re sleepy, you have an increased risk of falling.
- Fall-proof your home
- higher risk of falling in the future Get rid of things that are tripping hazards and replace regular rugs with non-slip mats.
- Add grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower and next to the toilet.
- Put railings on both sides of stairs and walkways.
- Make sure the home environment has lots of light by adding brighter light bulbs or nightlights.
- Provide visual clues. People with dementia can have difficulty separating similar colors (i.e. they may have trouble discerning objects from a similar-colored background or they may have trouble seeing the end of the stairs if their color is the same as on the floor). For example, it is helpful to define the top and bottom of a staircase through the use of contrasting colors.
- Become educated about the risks of falls and what to do if a fall happens. Here is a helpful guide from the National Institute on Aging (nia.gov) or here are some resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on fall prevention
- Speak up and talk openly if you are worried about falling or feel unsteady. Fear of falling can seriously affect your quality of life and, sadly, keep you from being active and thriving. Family members or doctors can help ease this mental stress.
- Always report a fall. There is absolutely no shame in reporting a fall and much to gain by sharing this pertinent medical information with a healthcare team.
- Boost energy levels with aromatherapy. Use uplifting scents — like orange, peppermint, lemon, and rosemary — in the morning to increase energy levels by diffusing the oils into the room or applying them directly to clothing or tissues.
- Take steps to prevent and treat depression. Symptoms of depression, such as not feeling well or feeling slowed down, are linked to falls.
- Do mind-body exercises. Incorporate yoga and meditation into your daily routine. Tai chi is also an example that has been shown to reduce fall risk, fear of falling, and lower limb weakness.
- Find ways to volunteer. It’s a great way to keep moving that also makes you feel good!
- Join a book club, prayer group, or other organization to stay connected with others.. This can leave you feeling anxious and may cause you to hesitate to leave the house or even visit certain places in your own home because of stairs, floor rugs, or many other common fall hazards. today to schedule a tour.
When is it Time for a Higher Level of Care?
Fear of falling is normal — especially if you’ve already experienced one. It doesn’t help that older adults who have fallen are at a higher risk of falling in the future
By avoiding outings out of the home or even limiting activities within the home, you may start to feel helpless, which increases the risk of further physical decline, isolation, or depression.
If you or your loved one have fallen even just once (or more), it may be time to consider a more proactive approach and start looking outside of the home for help.
Moving to a senior living community, like Monarch, means you or a loved one can benefit from staff on hand 24/7 to help when someone falls, tactics in place to prevent falls, and services designed to enhance the overall health and well-being of residents. We provide programs to build body strength and mentally stimulate residents with events and activities that they often don’t have access to alone at home.
Our communities are designed with fall prevention in mind, offering:
- Caregivers trained in fall prevention and reduction
- Geriatric fall risk assessments for each resident
- Education on the correct use of assistive devices
- Home safety equipment, such as barrier-free showers, grab bars, and handrails
- Wellness and exercise programs to help residents stay active and engaged
- Medication management
- Meals that support healthy muscle and bone strength by incorporating good sources of Vitamin D and calcium
Talk to Us!
We know that many older adults want to remain in their houses for as long as possible, but at Monarch, we believe that life doesn’t stop when moving into a new home; rather it’s simply embarking on a new, exciting stage.
For seniors seeking modernity, relevance, and possibility, Monarch reinvents residential communities as thriving ecosystems that support better living through holistic care and joyful connection. Contact Us