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The NSPA Blog

What Causes Falls in Seniors and How to Prevent Them

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Posted on December 17th, 2017 by Sally Perkins, under Senior Orphans, Tips & Resources

 Elderly man and woman touch foreheads in black and white photoIf you have just had an operation and come home from the hospital, you may worry more than usual about falls. If so, you are not alone; falls are actually the top cause of accident in people over the age of 65, and are responsible for numerous injuries and deaths. In this post, we highlight a few common conditions that can increase the risk of falls, suggesting useful ways to avoid them at home. If seniors live alone, it is especially important to protect them by removing obstacles within the home.

Common Causes of Falls

One of the reasons that falls in those aged 65 and over are so common, is that they can occur for unsuspected reasons. For instance, poor eyesight can make obstacles on the floor harder to spot, while any medications we are taking can have side-effects we are unaware of – including dizziness, insomnia, and high blood pressure.
 
Sometimes, the interaction of medications we are taking is the problem. Common conditions that can increase our risk of falls include lower body weakness, Vitamin D deficiency, poor footwear, and home risks such as cracks on the floor, uneven floor levels, etc. It is important to realize that the most falls are caused by a combination of risk factors It is therefore important to lower our risk in as many ways we can.

Making Homes Safer

One of the most important ways to improve home safety for seniors, is by installing fittings and making small but useful changes. Grab bars and a special shower chair will make daily grooming so much easier. Reconsider changing the flooring if your home has carpets or rugs to reduce tripping.
 
You may also need to install a few items at home, such as bed rails, lever-style door handles (which are less of a strain for people with arthritis and painful wrists) and economical access ramps for those who use wheelchairs. If possible, remove thresholds between rooms by using special ramps made for this purpose.

Preventive Measures to Stop Falls

It is important to visit your doctor, to inquire about your fall risk and how to reduce it. Sometimes, a change in medication can bring about a big improvement, so your doctor formulate a more conducive medical plan. It is also important to have your eyes and hearing checked, so you can take necessary precautions to sharpen your senses. Finally, exercise regimens like Tai Chi and yoga will help you make big improvements in strength and balance.
 
If you are over the age of 65, preventing falls should be a top priority, to avoid painful injuries that sometimes require hospitalization. By making a few small changes at home and aiming to improve bodily strength and balance, you will well be on your way to a healthy life, free of falls.

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