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Caring for Your Loved One: Preventing Falls

About 20 percent of injury-related deaths among seniors can be traced to a fall, with hip fractures being the most common type of fall injury. Nearly half of all injuries among seniors happen at home. However, there are steps you can take to avoid your loved one becoming a part of these statistics. A few lifestyle adjustments -- modifying the bathroom area and adding railing to stairs, for example -- can reduce your loved ones likelihood of falling.

The risk of falling becomes greater with certain ailments and factors such as the following:

  • Parkinson's disease
  • Cataracts
  • Poor balance
  • Decreased muscle and bone strength
  • Reduced vision or hearing
  • Unsafe conditions in and around the home

Here are further steps you can take to keep your loved one safe and prevent falls:

Helping with Lifestyle Choices

  • On behalf or your loved one, check with the doctor or pharmacist about the possible side-effects of combining prescription drugs with over-the-counter remedies, natural health products, or foods and juices. In addition, find out whether your loved one can consume alcohol while taking medication.
  • If the medication makes the patient dizzy or sleepy, help her to adjust her the level and intensity of activities, thereby lowering the risk of falling.
  • If your loved one is reluctant to pursue certain activities due to the fear of falling, encourage him to move. Explain that lack of activity creates an even greater risk of falling and take the opportunity to educate him on how to fall (if it's not avoidable) on his buttocks to prevent more serious injuries.
  • Before helping your loved one to get up after a fall, make sure she is not hurt.
  • In addition to encouraging the senior in your care to exercise regularly, arrange eye exams at least once a year.

Making the Home Safer for Your Loved One

  • Remove items such as books, magazines, clothes, shoes or pet toys that can cause tripping
  • Use double-sided tape to keep rugs from slipping and remove small throw rugs
  • Keep items commonly used by your loved one in easy reach
  • Install grab bars in the bathroom – baths, shower stall, the toilet area
  • Use non-slip mats in the bathtub, in the shower and on the bathroom floor
  • Check and improve the lighting. Use brighter lighting to help seniors to see and function better
  • Ensure that staircases have handrails
  • Have your loved one wear shoes inside and outside the home

You may want to print out the Prevent Falls pamphlet created by Fraser Valley Health and review it with your loved one. Your caregiver team will also advise you on all aspects of fall prevention if you have engaged a professional home care team.

Evergreen provides home care and nursing services in the Greater Vancouver area. Learn about our in-home care services for seniors, or contact us with any questions you may have.