Did you know falls are the number one cause of death for American seniors? There is a misconception out there that falls only happen to frail unhealthy seniors, yet this isn’t the case. Just as many falls happen to healthy, active seniors who maintain various activities throughout their communities. So, we asked our senior home care experts to help identify fall hazards that may be encountered throughout your communities. Here are some excellent community fall prevention tips offered directly by our experts.
Taking Public Transportation
While using the public transportation system there are plenty of fall risks. You could fall going in and out of the bus, or train. It is important to let the driver known if you require any assistance stepping up or out. A lot of times seniors feel that they can do this themselves but don’t realize that the step down is further away then they anticipated and they stumble. Be sure if you do feel you are able to help yourself up onto the bus or train that you use the provide handles to support your weight. Also, when choosing where to sit make sure that you choose a seat near the front and ask the driver to wait for you to take your seat before they start moving. If you do require additional assistance you can ask the driver or a friendly straighter for some support.
Using Sidewalks & Crosswalks
We all understand that old habits are hard to break, but adding some additional lifestyle changes could help to slow down the effects of dementia. If you or your loved one haven’t always had a healthy active diet and lifestyle it is a great time to start. A simple change that can be made to your diet is limiting the amount of high saturated fats and cholesterol. You can also introduce more physical activity into your life. This doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym every day, but you should add in simpler activities like taking walks and climbing stairs.
Watching for Stormy Weather
While out walking in the community it is also important to be aware of the weather happening in your area. If you do see that stormy weather is coming in, you can ask to stay with your neighbors until the weather clears or turn around to go back home before the storm worsens. Just be very careful of puddles as those can have holes filled with water. Be sure to take your time walking home, if you start to rush it can lead to slipping and falling on wet pavement. Try to stick to areas with plenty of lighting and consider wearing reflective gear.
Getting In and Out of Vehicles
Much of the time, one of the biggest challenges for seniors is getting in and out of vehicles. There is various equipment like a “handy bar” that you can install into your car for making this safer. A handy bar latches onto your door to give you additional leverage and support so you can push down, placing your weight on the bar, while you are getting up and out. Also, by placing a padded swivel on your car seat you can help to rotate your body and settle into your vehicle more safely. This will also help you to feel more confident entering and exiting your vehicle.
Not only is it important for you to be aware of your surroundings, it is important that you dress properly as well. Make sure you wear shoes that provide you with traction, grip and have firm rubber soles. Although we always like to wear our favorite shoes while going outdoors, you must ensure that your shoes still have a proper grip as they get older. Wearing shoes that have little to no grip can increase your risk of falling on slippery surfaces.
If you currently have vision problems, you are twice as likely to fall than someone without vision issues. Doctors suggest that you have your eyes checked once a year to maintain any potential prescription changes. If you are someone who only requires reading glasses or bifocals, do not wear these types of glasses while you are out in the community. With bifocals or reading glasses, it will make it more difficult for you to see potential hazards on the ground and properly estimate object depth. So be sure to wear the proper glasses while outdoors.
Keeping Your Balance
The simplest things like carrying your groceries inside your home can lead to a fall. A lot of times people will carry way more items then they are safely able to, which will cause them to be off balance. Overloading coupled with rushing to get inside to put the items away can increase the likelihood of tripping and falling. Be sure to only carry what you can handle. It is perfectly okay to take more than one trip in and out of the home for the sake of personal safety. If possible, have someone help you carry in your items.
Asking For Additional Help
It’s important to understand your limits as you get older. You may not be able to do the things you once did, or go for walks or long drives, and that’s okay. Senior home care offers additional help when it is needed by individuals or families. Home care can help you to build your strength and balance with in-home therapy. Home care companies can also help provide you with information on additional medical equipment that you may want to use inside and outside of your home to keep you safer and prevent falls.
When it comes to falls there is no way to predict when or where it will happen. By becoming more aware of potential risks and knowing how to prevent falls, you can significantly reduce your risk. So next time you are out and about in your community be sure to incorporate the fall precautions that you learned above.