No Joking Matter
If you grew up in the 1980’s, you probably remember the old Life Alert commercials that ran incessantly during daytime TV. Before cell phones became commonplace, the Life Alert system allowed seniors to summon help by pushing a button worn around their neck. While the service was useful and technologically advanced for its time, the commercials proved memorable for an unintended reason. In one scene an elderly woman lies tangled in her walker on the bathroom floor. After pushing her Life Alert button she cries out, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”
The phrase became something of a running joke in American culture, used as a punchline everyone understood. But if you’ve ever spent time caring for an older person, you know falls are no joke.
The Importance of Fall Prevention
One in five falls cause serious injuries to seniors, according to data from the CDC. These injuries – often broken bones and head wounds – send 2.8 million Americans to the emergency room every year. Older women who fall are especially susceptible to hip fractures, which can have devastating long term effects. By some estimates, one in five hip fractures result in death.
Unfortunately, even seniors who avoid a serious injury may still pay a heavy emotional price. Many times, seniors become depressed after a fall and some reduce their mobility out of fear of falling again. Both these results can cause cascading health problems and threaten independence and quality-of-life.
As America ages, falls – and their devastating consequences – will affect millions. As such, implementing fall prevention strategies – especially at home – is of vital importance. But before creating a plan, it’s important to understand the common causes.
Understanding the Causes
What we consider ‘aging’ is really just a collection of physical and cognitive declines. When taken together, these declines – and some methods of treatment – can severely inhibit mobility. Fall prevention begins by understanding how these declines manifest themselves.
- Balance: Loss of coordination, balance, and flexibility is common among the elderly.
- Vision: As we age, it can be more difficult for older eyes to distinguish tripping hazards.
- Chronic Conditions: Diabetes, stroke, or arthritis are common in older adults and many of these conditions increase the risk of falls.
Other factors, including medication and a senior’s home environment also play important roles in fall prevention.
Home Care Can Help
Without an outside perspective, many seniors may not realize the risk they’re currently taking. That’s one of the reasons why home care is so important. A dedicated provider will have regular contact with their client and recognize declines as they’re happening.
In our next post we’ll offer a few simple strategies for reducing the risk of falls in the home. In the meantime, you can download our handy Fall Prevention and Checklist Guide. If you live in the Phoenix metro area and are interested in learning more about our home care services, please call 602-595-HOME (4663) or you can send us a message here. Fall prevention is an important undertaking and is achievable with the proper precautions.