It is no wonder that falling is one of the top concerns for seniors who live alone. The consequences such as broken bones and fractures can be severe and debilitating. There are, however, steps you and your loved one can take to limit the risks involved with falling.RisksMuscle WeaknessMuscle weakness and decreased flexibility is one of the number one causes for falls. It can become a vicious cycle as those that fall are concerned about falling again, limiting their movement and thereby diminishing their muscle tone. If your loved one’s fear is strong enough to deter movement, consider making an appointment with a physical therapist who can offer tools, tips and exercises that can help them get stronger before taking on a more intense exercise routine. There are also fall-risk reduction programs that are offered around the country.
Low-impact activities that increase muscle tone and flexibility include water aerobics, stationary bicycling, Tai chi and yoga. Your parent’s local senior community center or YMCA often offers these types of exercise classes.Balance and Gait IssuesThese issues may also be due to loss of fitness. Other factors include certain diseases and medications. Any disease or medication that produces dizziness can lead to balance issues. Postural hypotension which results in sudden low blood pressure and inner ear disorders can result in dizziness. Other diseases that may lead to loss of balance include neuropathy, arthritis, dementia and heart disease. Medications that can lead to dizziness and loss of balance include anti-seizure drugs, antidepressants, sedatives and tranquilizers.
The first step in controlling this risk factor is determining the actual cause. Take a list of medications, including over-the-counter and supplements, to your local pharmacist and ask them if there are any possible drug interactions or medications that could cause balance issues. Medications can often be altered in order to ensure the least side-effects. Make an appointment with your parent’s primary health care provider.Vision ProblemsPoor vision due to underlying diseases such as glaucoma or cataracts can produce an increased susceptibility to falls. Make sure your loved one is visiting the ophthalmologist on a regular basis. If everything has been done to ensure the best vision possible but limited sight is inevitable, there are several tactics to use to help your loved one stay safe. This includes using contrasting colors for stairs and doorways. Increase lighting and consider adding sensor monitors. Minimize clutter and ensure that there is no tripping or slipping hazards.Senior Care ProviderIn order to ensure your loved one’s safety, consider obtaining the services of a senior care provider. They can assist your loved one when transferring to different areas for the home. The can offer help with the daily activities of living such as bathing, dressing and preparing meals. They can accompany your parent on a daily walk, provide transportation and that all-important aspect of a balanced life—companionship.