Fall Prevention: Keeping Yourself and Older Loved Ones Safe

Falls are a significant hazard and cause for concern among older adults. One in five falls causes serious injury like broken bones or head trauma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Additionally, more than 95 percent of hip fractures are caused by falls.

At Thrive, we take fall prevention and the risk of falls very seriously. To help mitigate the risk of falls, we have a Falls Prevention Program and ensure our team members are properly trained to be on alert for potential falls and always working to both prevent and quickly respond to any that occur. 

Still, although many falls do not cause significant injuries – the fear of falling and the threat of falls can prevent even active older adults from partaking in activities and from maintaining their independence and freedom. There are, however, some actions that you can take to help prevent falling and to reduce your risk of falls. 

Taking charge of your health and fitness can help to reduce your fall risk, as can having plans in place to reduce falls. Let’s take a closer look at some of the risk factors for falls, how to prevent falls, and some of the statistics and facts about falls among older adults in the United States:

At risk for falling

Certain factors can put you at higher risk for falling. Risk of falls can increase if you experience lower-body weakness, vitamin D deficiency, difficulties with walking and balance, vision problems, foot pain, or take medicine such as tranquilizers, sedatives, or antidepressants, among other factors. 

Falls unfortunately typically happen in older adults. And while active and fit older adults can still experience falls, those who exercise regularly and focus on strength and balance conditioning might be less likely to experience falls – or suffer an injury from one. 

While a doctor or health care professional can assess your fall risk, the CDC has listed certain behaviors and tendencies that can indicate an increased risk for falling. If you have or experience some of the behaviors and actions below, your fall risk may be high. Ask yourself if you:

  • Have fallen in the past year
  • Use a cane or walker to get around
  • Feel unsteady when walking
  • Hold onto furniture when walking at home
  • Are worried about falls
  • Push with your hands when standing up from a chair
  • Have trouble stepping up onto a curb
  • Have lost feeling in your feet
  • Take medicine for sleep or mood
  • Often feel sad or depressed

…The good news is that many of these factors can be lessened!

Preventing falls

Some falls can be prevented! It’s best to speak with your doctor or a healthcare professional on ways to avoid falls, about your risk for falling, and regarding specific actions you might take to avoid falls in general. Your doctor or pharmacist can also review your medications to look for anything that could make you dizzy, sleepy, or affect your balance & mobility. Having your vision checked and keeping eyeglass prescriptions up to date can also help to reduce fall risk. 

Research suggests that exercise may be the most effective factor in reducing the risk of falling and injuries from falls. Exercises that make legs & core muscles stronger and improve balance, such as Tai Chi, may be the most effective. Thrive hosts a variety of fitness programs and exercise classes for all different levels, and we encourage our residents to get involved and get moving! 

Just as Thrive keeps its living spaces and community areas free from clutter and other objects & obstacles that can increase fall risk, be sure to keep your home tidy and free from debris & other matter on floors or within walking areas. Keep lights on so that you can more easily see your surroundings – and always use grab bars in the bathroom, handrails, and other assistive handles & railings to keep balance.  

Statistics on falls

Falls are on the rise in the U.S. among older adults. From 2007 to 2016, fall death rates in the U.S. has sadly increased by 30 percent, according to the CDC. While the reasons for this increase may not be entirely clear, the steady uptick underscores that falls are an issue that should be taken seriously by individuals, families, and care providers. Other surprising facts & statistics about falls include:

  • Falling once doubles your chances of falling again 
  • 3 million older adults are treated in emergency departments due to falls each year
  • More than 800,000 patients a year are hospitalized because of a fall injury, most often experiencing a head or hip injury
  • Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injury
  • In 2015, the medical costs for falls totaled more than $50 billion

While these facts and statistics may be concerning, they should encourage you to further educate yourself about falls and to learn more about what can be done to prevent dangerous falls. 

Fall safety and senior living

Even if you’re diligent about staying in shape, keeping your doctor and health care providers informed, and being preventive when it comes to avoiding falls – injuries and accidents caused by falls can affect even those who are most careful. Falls can be especially concerning for older adults who live alone and might not be able to get help quickly should a fall occur. 

Since Thrive monitors its residents’ health & well-being and has trained team members to assist individuals at risk of falling, we can reduce the worry over having older parents and loved ones unattended or living alone.

Many families explore Assisted Living options after realizing that a loved one’s current surroundings and environment just aren’t conducive to preventing falls and accidents. Some families also realize that if a fall were to occur, a loved one could have trouble getting assistance quickly and also might not have access to the care & support needed in the response and healing stages following a fall. 

It’s best to be preventive about falls – and thinking about accidents before they occur is a commendable and very smart move. If you’re curious to learn more about Thrive’s safety measures and how we work to keep residents safe, we invite you to tour one of our Thrive communities. If you have any additional questions or would like more information, you can always contact a Thrive Senior Living community near you today.

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