According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a senior citizen falls every minute of the day in the U.S. That means that 25% of all seniors nationwide will fall at least once per year, and one fall puts older adults at double the risk of suffering a second fall.
Despite falls being extremely dangerous to seniors, some people accept them as being normal parts of aging. But that doesn’t have to be the case! Both seniors and their loved ones can take steps to reduce their risks of falling, whether it’s through lifestyle changes or by making changes in their homes.
Seniors Should Be Evaluated for Risk Factors
First, seniors should have full health checkups to determine if they already have pre-existing risk factors for falls. Potential risk factors include:
- Medications that cause drowsiness, dizziness, or impaired coordination
- Poor vision due to extreme myopia, glaucoma, macular degeneration, cataracts, and more
- Pain or weakness in feet, ankles, calves, and thighs, which can make standing and walking difficult
Conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis should be identified and treated as early as possible, while regular eye exams should be scheduled and attended. In addition, seniors should ask their doctors about medications that make them unsteady on their feet, especially if there are alternative drugs they can take that have fewer or less intense side effects.
Removing Dangers from the Home Is Important, Too
Seniors can face serious slip and fall risks even when they are in perfect health—and those risks are often in plain sight. Home décor can make a house feel more lived-in and comfortable, but it can also put people at higher risk of injury. Common types of dangerous décor and home repair issues include:
- Loose rugs and carpet—Rugs can add warmth and charm to rooms, but they can be extremely dangerous to walk on. In addition to putting seniors at risk when they bunch up under their feet, rugs can also be slippery and slide out from under them, even when grip mats are placed underneath.
- Uneven or broken stairs—Stairs pose major risks for seniors even when they are in perfect condition. And when stairs are broken, irregular, or uneven, one minor misstep is all it takes to suffer a serious fall. Repair broken or misaligned steps immediately, and if your loved one struggles to go up and down stairs, consider moving their bedroom to the ground level.
- Crowded rooms—It’s common for older adults to have large collections of furniture that they’ve accumulated over many years. For many seniors, it can be hard to get rid of furniture, which means their living spaces become cramped and potentially dangerous. Move furniture to create wide walkways, and if there isn’t enough room, sell or put extra pieces in storage.
- Dim lighting—A common source of falls for older adults is being unable to see, especially at night. Night vision worsens with age, and dark bedrooms and hallways can be dangerous. Be sure to install night lights throughout your loved one’s home, especially in areas where they walk after dark.
Exercise Can Restore Balance and Increase Confidence
Many Americans live sedentary lifestyles. And while those lifestyles may be manageable when they are young, they can become detrimental to their health and safety as they age. Encourage your elderly loved one to go on regular walks and even partake in aerobics classes and strength training.
Having good balance and strength in the core and legs are essential for reducing the risks of slips, trips, and falls, but those traits are among the first lost among aging seniors. A regimented exercise program can get your loved one on the right track towards being safer and healthier in their own home.
Some Falls Happen Due to Negligence—But We’re Here to Help.
It’s important to do everything in your power to reduce your loved one’s risks of slipping, tripping, and falling. But sometimes, others’ negligence causes falls that can’t be prevented. When that happens, victims and their loved ones deserve compensation, and it’s our goal to help them get it.
If your senior family member fell on someone else’s property, they’re facing expensive medical bills and serious pain. Let our Oklahoma premises liability lawyers build a claim on your behalf. You’ve got enough to worry about already—call Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers today for a free consultation.