Lisa Conway – FLORIDA TODAY
Q: I worry about my aging parents, who live alone. Both have fallen a couple of times already. Is there anything I can do to help them prevent future falls?
A: This is a good question that comes up a LOT. There are definitely things we can do to help decrease the risk of a fall. If a loved one is falling frequently, ask when they last saw their physician. If it has been awhile, suggest they make an appointment right away. Make certain they make the doctor aware of their recent fall history and ask if the doctor will write “an order for therapy to evaluate and treat.” Any recent medication changes? Many medications have side effects that may lead to falls, including lowering blood pressure, dizziness and decreased awareness.
A thorough safety assessment of the senior and their surroundings can also aid in fall prevention. Do they use a cane or walker? Assistive devices and durable medical equipment like canes and walkers are helpful — but only if used properly and consistently. Are hearing aids and eyeglasses current? One or more weakened senses can put you at greater risk for a fall.
Around the House:
- Stairs or steps — With a walker, stairs and steps can be difficult to traverse and a ramp might be indicated.
- Bathroom — The bathroom can pose challenges. Is the toilet the right height? If not, a toilet extender may be in order. The shower is a notorious trouble spot. A shower chair, non-skid surface, detachable shower spray and grab bars can make all the difference.
- Bedroom — Is the bed too high? Seniors should be able to get in and out of bed safely. If this is difficult, an automated bed or even railings can help.
- Clutter— Without a place for “stuff” –clutter can become the enemy. Conversely, items placed too low or too high in closets can turn retrieval into a balancing act.
- Furniture and more — Loose throw rugs, polished or uneven floors, trailing extension cords –these and other trip hazards are common. Is the home too dimly lit to see well? And those kitchen chairs on wheels might make it “easier to scoot around the kitchen,” but they can also scoot out from under you!
Life doesn’t have to be an accident waiting to happen. And if you’ve gone down –reach out to your doctor. Look around the house today and take action to prevent a future fall. To learn more, contact The Experts in Aging at One Senior Place by calling 321-751-6771.
One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to askOSP@OneSeniorPlace.com, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging.
Lisa Conway is a Registered Nurse and a Certified Care Manager for Senior Partner Care Services, Viera.