Fall Prevention for Seniors: Asses Your Risk and Stay Safe!
September is Falls Prevention Awareness Month, which offers a chance for you to do your fall risk assessment and to become proactive in keeping yourself safe.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 3 million seniors are tended to in emergency rooms every year for injuries related to falling, and approximately 20% of falls end with serious injuries, such as head injuries or broken bones.
It is a frightening affair to realize if you are over the age of 60, your risk of falling climbs each year. Oftentimes, a fall causes a broken hip or other severe fractures that have long recovery periods and some individuals are never the same.
The risk of falling can make it difficult for seniors to accomplish the activities of daily living (ADLs), especially if they live alone. Many elderly individuals are on blood thinning medications, which makes falling a potential internal bleeding issue. These types of falls can be fatal.
With any type of a fall, see your doctor immediately or go to the emergency room. There may be a head injury or bleeding. Many seniors do not like to discuss fall risks in fear of being a burden or because they are struggling to accept their circumstances.
Some seniors become so worried about falling they begin to reduce their levels of activity, leading to muscle weakness, increasing their risk of falling. It is important to talk about your fears of falling because if you stop moving around as much, you stand a chance of growing weaker. The weaker you feel, the worse you can fall. You should overcome this fear of falling by staying well informed and up to date about fall risks.
Another prevention technique is called the buddy system. Meet up with a friend and garden together! It is helpful to take walks and partake in other enjoyable activities with like-minded people. This way you will never feel alone. You can live healthier by facing and overcoming your fear of falling.
There are several strategies you can take right now to decrease your chances of falling:
#1. Assess your Health
Have a discussion with your physician about reviewing all of your medications. Ask your healthcare provider about any side effects your medications may have that could increase your fall risk. Prior to meeting with your doctor, you can perform a self-risk assessment for falls. Your ears and eyes are part of your internal balance system, so make sure to have them both checked if you can, before your appointment with your doctor. If you need a referral, go to your doctor for one. To check up on your hearing and vision benefits call Senior Healthcare Advisors at 888.809.2440 TTY/711.
#2. Exercise activities
In a usual year, seniors are encouraged to attend exercise classes that can help improve strength, balance, and flexibility.
Many insurance programs offer gym memberships, such as Silver Sneakers. Call now to see if your insurance program offers gym memberships: 888.809.2440 TTY/711. Also, since the pandemic, many exercise programs have been filmed and are now available streaming, on tape, or tv. Check your local listings to see when you can exercise along with tv shows. It’s okay to make your exercise room at home.
#3. Home safety
There are many modifications you can do to your home to reduce your risk of falling. Keep stairs and walkways lit well and clean away any clutter. Add safety accessories such as grab bars installed in the shower, in the tub, and by the toilet.
#4. Outdoor safety
Stay on the lookout for changes in the terrain, changes in the sidewalks, and cracks.
#5. Speak up
Be the first to bring it up with your healthcare team. Talk openly with your family, other residents, home health aids, etc. about the extreme health risks associated with falling. The more you talk about it, the more it stays in the front of your mind. Remember we are talking about the serious nature involved with falling.
#6. Keep a fall and stumble journal
It is smart to keep track of stumbles and falls for future reference. Stay on top of injuries and create an aid for your memory. You can use this journal to tell your doctor about any falls, stumbling, or feeling unsteady when walking or standing, or if you fear falling.
#7. Review any concerns with your doctor
Some of your medicines can make you feel sleepy or dizzy which can raise your fall risk. At least once a year have your eyes examined and update your prescription eyeglasses as needed. Talk to your mental health provider about health conditions such as depression.Talk to your doctor about any potential problems such as osteoporosis, low blood pressure that can raise your risk of falling.
#8. Have your feet examined each year to discuss your fall prevention self-assessment
Proper footwear is a major part of fall prevention. When you wear the right pair of shoes, and you enjoy wearing them, you are much more likely to get up and go out for a nice walk or to even move around more in general.
Create a safer home with the following accessories:
- Shower chairs
- Adequate lighting
- Carpet, non-skid strips, or mats on all surfaces that may get wet
- Night lights
Precautions to Take If You Fall
Whether you are indoors or outside, a sudden and unexpected fall is scary and can, potentially, be very dangerous. If you do fall, try your best to remain as calm as you can. Take some slow deep breaths into through your nose and out through your mouth. Do not move suddenly. After the shock or pain of falling, if there is any, begins to wear off, remain on the floor or wherever you have fallen until you can be sure you are not injured. Quickly rising up can worsen an injury you have or make you fall again.
If you have fallen, before you get up, call 911. Always keep your phone or an emergency call button within reach. Follow any medical recommendations given to you by your doctor.
We Can Help at Senior Healthcare Advisors. We specialize in maximizing Medicare experiences! We are here to guide you in understanding and enrolling in the Medicare benefits that best suit your needs. Give us a call today at 888-809-1463 or visit our website: www.SeniorHealthcareADV.com
***Disclaimer: This is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any further questions or concerns you may have with your provider.***
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