Each year, one in every three adults age 65 and older experience a fall. Falls are the leading cause of hospital admissions and injury deaths within these demographics. Falls can result in head injuries, hip injuries or even death. In many cases, those who experience falls, have difficulty rehabilitating and experience overall health deterioration. Fortunately, this problem is preventable and caregivers play a significant role in this process. Caregivers not only provide excellent emotional support but also help (the Patient) establish a friendly and familiar routine to help strengthen their physical bodies which ultimately improves patients’ overall safety and the quality of life.
As we age we lose vision, hearing, sensation and balance. People who are in fear of falling start experiencing a diminished lifestyle. They no longer participate in activities they used to enjoy. There are number of steps that if followed will greatly reduce the possibility of falls and increase patients’ independence level. The main categories are Exercise, Environment, Education and Reminders.
The first one is called Range of Motion (ROM). As we age our muscles lose strength. The only way to slow or even reverse this process is by exercising those muscles as much as possible. It is important that these exercises focus on increasing leg strength and improving balance. There is no need for rigorous training or even attending the gym . It can start with simple lifestyle changes. Keep in mind that by adequately doing your exercises you will have muscle tone and endurance. It will help you keep joints, ligaments and tendons more flexible while adding an extra sense of balance, agility and confidence.
Regular exercise will help you have more stamina and energy and it will also strengthen your bones while fighting osteoporosis and resisting injuries.
- Begin by simply finding some time for a daily walk, take the stairs instead of using elevators, park further and walk to your destination, walk on the beach , parks, etc. Take your time… speed is not important. You can turn something that you enjoy very much, such as window shopping and walking up and down the isles into exercise .
- Consider swimming pool exercises which are not strenuous and these do not only strengthen the muscles , they also improve balance.
- You may consider a physical therapist, who can actually teach you how to compensate for lack of balance and determine if your walking could be steadied with either an exercise program to strengthen muscles, or an assistive device such as a cane or walker. Other activities which may greatly strengthen your muscles and bones are: Tai Chi, Yoga, and other exercise sessions that focus on strength, balance and flexibility. If you are able to maintain your balance you will prevent falls!
Keep your living environment clean and dry at all times. More than 60% of falls happen at home. Motion detector lighting and night lights might be a good consideration. When your surroundings are free of clutter and have the proper lighting such as well illuminated hallways, bathrooms and bedrooms, motion detector lights, night lights and alike, this will greatly contribute to minimize or avoid the risk of falls. Remove all tripping hazards including but not limited to loose rugs, clothing and electrical cords. Add the grips bars in and out of the shower and near the toilet. Railings a re necessary around all stairways. Apply a rubber bath mat in the tub or shower. Consider using a shower chair and a hand held shower head. Use a raised toilet seat for extra support when getting on and off. Remember to check that the proper lighting is in place and working.
It might become more difficult for you to get out of bed . You may want to look into adjusting the height of your mattress and/or applying side rails to avoid falls during your sleep. Be sure to keep the path between your bedroom and the bathroom always clean and clear of any objects.
The more you educate yourself and follow good advice, the more you prevent any risk of falls. You should make a visit to the Doctor and know if any medication you may be taking for any health condition may contribute to the risk of falls. Your health condition may be a factor for falls. Remember that medication side effects may increase the risk of falling. For instance; drowsiness, shortness of breath, numbness, diabetes, low blood pressure, neuropathy and many others. W ear the proper shoes and non – skid shoes. A void heels, flip – flops, thick soles, laces since these will increase the risk for falls. Have your feet measured since they change over the years. T he proper fitting of a shoe not only contributes to a healthier foot but also will help avoid any falls.
If you use a walker make sure you educate yourself on how one must really use it . These are created to help you manage better as you walk. While using a walker, you must be conscious o f your posture since having the right posture will help your balance and avoid falls.
The caregivers reminds patients the proper body mechanics, always ensures that the patient wears the right pair of shoes, takes proper medication and enforce s the proper use of DME (Durable Medical Equipment). At last, the caregiver’s role is very important when it comes to helping prevent falls. The role of a Caregiver is to specifically monitor the Patient and help the Patient overcome the obstacles they ma y be facing not only physically but also emotionally. Please remember that falls are preventable and if you make sure to take precautionary measures, you will be in good shape.
Recovery starts at home… Premier Care Nurses of America provides well trained, personable and reliable Care Givers, Nurses, and Care Managers to individuals needing quality home care. We also provide services to patients in hospitals, assisted and independent living facilities and nursing homes. Our services enhance an individual’s quality of life and promote independence by allowing the patient to remain in the comfort of their own home. To find out more about our services, to arrange home care or to get a home fall risk assessment please call our Palm Beach Office at (561)353 – 9200 or our Broward County Office at (954)933 – 9005. If you desire to speak with Mirjana Goforth, the Administrator, directly you can reach her at (561) 317 – 9233. Premier Care Nurses accepts Medicaid Waiver Patients for Palm Beach and Broward Counties.
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