September 11, 2020
While comedians and circus clowns may stir audiences to laughter over such stunts as slipping on a banana peel, there is nothing funny about falling when it comes to older adults, who happen to be at a greater risk for serious injuries that may result in an extended rehabilitation process. Not just that, but there is a lesser known complication that oftentimes arises from a senior’s fall: a fear of falling again, which is overwhelming enough to affect quality of life and health.
As the saying goes, “Once bitten, twice shy.” It is natural – and wise – for a senior loved one who has fallen to want to take precautions in order to avoid a subsequent fall. Yet for some, the fear of falling inhibits necessary physical exercise, contributing to weakness and reduced balance confidence, both of which might actually increase the risk of falling again.
Instead, follow these fall prevention tips for seniors:
- Strengthen muscles. Ask the doctor and/or physical therapist for recommended exercises to engage in after a fall. Building strength is an extremely important component to protecting against future falls.
- Assess the home. Walk through the older adult’s home to check for any cords, clutter, throw rugs, etc. which can cause a tripping hazard. Ensure there is adequate lighting and install grab bars in the bathroom and anywhere else supplementary support might be beneficial.
- Discuss it. Seniors may feel embarrassed for having fallen, but it’s worthwhile to discuss what occurred to be able to determine what precautionary measures should be taken to make sure it does not occur again.
It’s also beneficial for senior loved ones to set goals, with the assistance of a healthcare professional, and to set out to work on attaining them. The goals need to be reasonable and relatively attainable to instill confidence, for example having the ability to walk up and down the stairs independently while holding the handrail in the next two weeks, or walking the full length of the backyard within a month.
Once a goal has been set, figure out the steps necessary to hit that goal. What types of exercises will help strengthen the muscles required to go up and down the stairs, or to take an extended walk? And in case the goal is not achieved, consider what prevented the accomplishment, and what further steps can be taken to set and reach a brand new goal.
Above all, make sure to provide encouragement and support to cheer a senior loved one on towards regaining his or her self-assurance and confidence and lessening any fears.
For even more recommendations on preventing falls, or to arrange for a no cost in-home safety assessment, reach out to the aging care experts at Continuum any time at (314) 863-9912 or fill out our online contact form. We’d love for you to learn how we provide the kind of companion care and dementia care in St. Louis and the surrounding area recommends most. If you’d like to learn more about the different areas we serve in Missouri, please visit our Service Area page.