Many people see falls as a natural consequence of aging. In fact, some seniors repeatedly fall at home without ever reporting it to their healthcare providers unless they become seriously injured.
This may leave you wondering, “If falls happen so often, why is fall prevention important? Why spend so much time worrying about something that seems inevitable?”
In reality, falls can be devastating for seniors. And even though falls in older adults are common, research shows that most falls could have been prevented.
Here’s why it’s so important to help seniors prevent falls and some tips and resources to help.
Falls are the most common type of accident in people over 65 years old. In fact, over 30% of seniors over 65 fall each year. That percentage rises to around 40% of seniors aged 85 and above. In about half of these cases, seniors suffer falls more than once.
Whereas a younger adult or child might be able just to get back up, many of these falls result in serious injuries for seniors. Seniors can end up in the hospital or needing surgery for injuries such as:
Even when falls don’t result in any significant injury, they can still affect your parent’s quality of life. Some seniors develop a fear of falling, which causes them to limit their activities. Over time this lack of activity leads to decreased strength, which actually leads to a higher risk of falls.
Many seniors aren’t able to recover sufficiently after a fall to go back to living independently. This results in them needing to move to a senior care facility earlier than expected.
Now that you know why fall prevention is important for seniors, let’s look at some tips for keeping your senior parent safe.
You’re not alone when it comes to helping your senior parent stay safe from falls at home. There are healthcare and community resources available to help.
Medical research shows that home visits from an occupational therapist can help prevent falls among older adults who are at higher risk for falling. Your parent’s healthcare provider can provide a referral.
An occupational therapist can assess your parent’s home and help brainstorm solutions to any hazards uncovered. They can recommend safety equipment, modifications, or tools. They can also teach your parent to properly use them, helping minimize falls and maintain independence.
If your parent struggles with balance or avoids physical activity because they are afraid of falling, ask their healthcare provider for a referral to physical therapy.
A physical therapist can create a customized exercise program that helps your parent improve their balance, flexibility, and muscle strength. This can help them avoid falls at home.
The Older Americans Act, originally passed in 1965, provides funding for supportive programs for adults over the age of 60 years. One of their initiatives has been to develop evidence-based programs to help prevent falls at home.
Contact your parent’s local Council on Aging to see what programs are available in your area. Programs vary in length and the way they are delivered, but most include elements of education, exercises, and support for seniors.
Tai chi, a Chinese martial art, is an excellent exercise choice for older adults. The practice involves slow, rhythmic movements, including rotation of the trunk, shifting weight, and coordination. These are all exercises that may help prevent falls. Studies show that it even improves postural stability better than other exercises. Many communities have free or low-cost lessons available.
Parentis Health is here to help you keep your senior parent safe.
We offer in-home physical and occupational therapy to help your senior parent understand why fall prevention is important, build strength and balance, and make any necessary changes to their routine.
Contact us today, and let’s talk about how we can support your parent on their journey.