How to prevent falls in elderly?
In my decade of practice as a consulting physiotherapist I have treated a number of patients in the geriatric age group with the oldest being around 99 years of age. Falls in the elderly are a major risk area that leads to injury and even fatalities.
I thought of putting down the causes of a fall, the steps to reduce the chance of falls and tips on making certain changes at home to prevent falls.
Causes of fall
• Osteoporosis -This is a condition wherein bones become more porous, less resistant to stress, and more prone to fractures. This is caused by hormonal changes, calcium and vitamin D deficiency, and a decrease in physical activity.
• As you get older, your sense of balance decreases and your reaction time gets slower.
• Lack of physical activity - Failure to exercise regularly results in poor muscle tone,decreased strength, and loss of bone mass and flexibility. All contribute to falls and the severity of injury due to falls.
• Poor eyesight
• Uneven flooring, wet surfaces, inadequate lighting
• Inactivity,drinking alcohol
• Fluctuating sugar levels, high blood pressure, inner ear problems, stroke, arthritis etc.
How to reduce your risk of falls?
• Wear shoes with non-skid soles
• Avoid wearing loose fitting slippers, high-heeled shoes or long nightdresses, skirts or long trousers that may cause you to trip
• If needed or advised use walking aids to maintain balance e.g. walker or walking stick.
• Get up slowly, especially after lying down to avoid feeling dizzy.
• Increase Bone Strength – Take proper calcium and vitamin D supplements, walk for minimum 30 minutes daily, get sunlight exposure etc
• Keep your muscles stronger and joints flexible by doing your exercises.
• Get yourself assessed regularly by your doctor and the physiotherapist
Changes to be made in the homes to prevent falls
• Bathroom-Install handle bars, use anti-skid floor mats, use a sitting toilet (western toilets) in case of Indian toilet use a commode chair, keep floor dry.
• Bedroom-The room should be well illuminated, place walking aid near the bed, use a firm mattress, the height of the bed should be right( not to high or low)
• Kitchen-Place utensils and commonly used items within easy reach, do not stand on chairs and stools to reach for things high up in a cupboard, turn in long handled utensils when cooking or preparing food
Clean up spills immediately
• Stairs-Install sturdy handrails on both sides of stairway, Place a coloured strip or bright tape at the edge of each step to make it easier to see, Install light switches at the top and bottom of stairways.
• Living Room- Keep electrical cords and telephone wires out of walkways, arrange furniture so that there is a clear pathway, chairs should have arms and be of appropriate height, adequate lighting, floors should not be wet.
FALLS CAN BE PREVENTED!!
PRACTICING GOOD HOME SAFETY MEASURES CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE
We want a society where older adults can live safe, healthy and independent lives