Did you know that approximately one in four senior adults experience a significant fall every year? Significant means the fall is enough of an issue to be reported to a medical provider, so experts estimate that the number of falls is actually much higher. But with the proper care and prevention, you can stay on your feet in your assisted living apartment and avoid some of the more unpleasant effects of a fall.
Here's a look at what seniors should know about falls and how to prevent them.
Anyone can fall. A minor misstep, an unfortunate ripple in a carpet or an item left out of place can lead to a tumble. For seniors, who may be dealing with chronic illnesses, loss of bone structures, reduced ability to heal or slower reaction times, falls can be especially dangerous. According to the National Council on Aging, falls lead the pack when it comes to reported nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions and fatal trauma injuries. And because one fall can make someone more likely to fall again in the future, prevention is something every senior should pay attention to.
The staff at Bethesda Gardens in Arlington work with residents to help ensure the safety of everyone. That includes keeping halls and walkways clear of tripping hazards and maintaining safe flooring, steps and other areas throughout the community. But there are some things each senior can do in his or her own assisted living apartment (and life) to help prevent falling.
Avoid storing items on the floor of your assisted living apartment, even in baskets or boxes. They can create tripping hazards, and if you're bending or reaching down for items, you may put yourself at a higher risk of a fall.
Make sure electrical cords are well managed and don't stick out into walkways. It's also a good idea to keep the floor area around chairs clear of items that you might catch yourself on when you stand. If you really want area rugs in your apartment, make sure they lie completely flat to reduce tripping.
Seniors who are protective of their independence may balk at mobility aids at first. However, a cane or walker actually upholds your independence, helping you move around the community safely with minimal to no help. Whether you're recovering from an illness or surgery or just need some help with balance, welcome mobility devices into your life to maintain independence without increasing your risk of falls.
Sometimes falls are less about balance and the ability to walk and more about simply not seeing an upcoming step or obstacle. See your vision care professional regularly to ensure your eyes are in good working order and that your glasses or contact prescription is up-to-date.
Regularly health checkups are important for people of any age and can help catch issues when preventative measures are most effective. Keep your doctor informed of any issues you're having with balance, vision, strength or any other symptoms that might impact your ability to stand or walk safely. Your health care provider may be able to provide tips or treatments to protect your mobility. And if you're not sure something is an issue, reach out to the Bethesda Gardens staff for help.
Finally, ensure your apartment is equipped with the right safety equipment for your needs. That's especially important in the bathroom, where a lot of falls happen. Make use of safety rails near toilets and in showers and tubs, and consider using raised toilet seats and shower chairs to make activities of daily living easier.
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