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11 Tips to Prevent Elderly Falls

One of the most common worries with an elderly parent is that they will fall and break a hip.  We hear this comment frequently. People worry about their parents - sometimes more than they need to - but acknowledging this possibility is not irrational. Falls and broken bones resulting from falls happen more frequently than one might think, and all it takes is one bad one to severely break some bones.

First, recognize that falling is inevitable for all ages.  We slip on ice, wet floors, cracks in sidewalks, missed steps, an errant shoe, or anything in our path that we do not anticipate.  Not everyone is falling because of playing Pokémon, Go either. 
The best thing you can do is a bit of prevention, as immobility is one of the worst solutions to combat falls.  Someone who does not move about is going to decline much faster than the person who is moving about, so let us look at some ways to decrease the number of falls.

1. make sure your parent has comfortable and sensible shoes to wear. also, it is important to actually wear them.

2. do not leave anything new sitting on the floor, assuming no one will trip over it.

3. exercise to keep muscles working and strong. this is helpful for all of us, because strong muscles help in the event of a fight-or-flight response to prevent a fall.

4. use NIGHTLIGHTs or leave on the bathroom light for easier navigation in the dark.

5. Make sure your parent’s medications are managed.  A common problem in the elderly is blood pressure mismanagement, which could lead to dizziness and falls upon standing up.

6. Similarly, it is important to stay hydrated, especially in the summer. Dehydration can also lead to dizziness and falls.

7. Put your arm out for Mom or Dad to grab when navigating uneven terrain. Avoid grabbing them yourself. It is better to let Mom or Dad grab you.

8. Canes and walkers are quite useful.  See a doctor for advice on when it is appropriate.

9.  Make sure Mom or Dad has grab-bars in the bathroom, a favorite chair he or she can actually get out of, and good handrails on all stairs.  If someone often leans on walls and grabs furniture to get around, he or she likely needs an assistive device.

10. Be careful when there has been a change to a new environment. We see it at times if someone has downsized to a new environment, if they visit family and they are not used to the setting.

11. Lastly, look into therapy in the home or outpatient, but discuss with their doctor first.

Falls are often families’ number one concerns for their parents.  Taking steps to prevent accidents are worth the effort.

I wish you success.