It is estimated that one in three adults age 65 and older fall each year. Older adults are hospitalized five times more frequently for falling related injuries than any other cause. Accidental falls are the leading cause of injury related deaths and non-fatal falls shown in one study estimated the average cost of falling to be $19,440 per person.
In addition to the injuries, many older adults develop a fear of falling and limit their activity. This actually decreases their mobility and increases their chance of falling.
What you can do to help an older adult prevent falls –
First of all, because it doesn’t cost anything and can be done immediately, look around their living space. At least one third of falls involve environmental hazards in the home. Can you remove clutter? Simple organization will greatly decrease risk. Pay special attention to throw rugs and bathroom mats, anything on the floor. Moving furniture to create wider paths is also helpful.
For minimal cost you can highlight or paint any steps or floor-height changes. Increase lighting in all living spaces and add nightlights to hallways and bathrooms. Install handrails on stairs and in the bathroom. Select well-fitting nonskid slippers or shoes rather than socks and soft slippers.
Secondly, speak to elder’s health care provider or pharmacist about their medication. Some pharmaceuticals contribute to dizziness, sleepiness and vision impairment. Ask them to pay special attention to medicine combinations for these possible side effects.
Thirdly, have the elder’s eyes checked regularly.
Lastly, regular exercise will increase confidence, mobility, strength and flexibility. There are many low impact, strength and resistance training options like Tai Chi and water aerobics. You can even get started right now from your chair: