According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries among older adults in the U.S. Statistics show that every day, one in four seniors over age 65 experience a fall. And every 11 seconds, a senior is treated in the ER from injuries resulting from a fall.
Falls happen for a variety of reasons, including decreases in strength and balance, side effects from medications and everyday accidents such as tripping on a loose rug or a low piece of furniture. And once a senior experiences a fall, they’re more likely to experience another one in the future.
Preventing Falls in Seniors: Debunking the Myths
Because they are so common, many seniors wrongly believe that falls are just a natural part of aging. However, there are a number of ways seniors can prevent falls. And that starts by understanding these most common myths.
- Older seniors who are less active are more likely to experience a fall. While staying active can help seniors decrease their risk of falls, it won’t completely prevent it. In other words, falls don’t just occur in seniors who are frail, weak or generally inactive. That’s why it’s important for all seniors to take precautions as they age such as avoiding things like step ladders, using handrails to go up a flight of stairs, and using safety grab bars when coming in and out of a shower or bathtub.
- Leading a sedentary lifestyle will leave me less prone to falls. Some seniors believe the less active they are, the less likely they are to fall. However, leading a sedentary lifestyle can lead to a decrease in overall strength, flexibility and mobility. This can make even simple tasks such as walking from the kitchen to the living room or getting in and out of a car more difficult. Additionally, leading a sedentary lifestyle can leave you more prone to chronic conditions such as hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.
- I’m safest from falls in my own home. Approximately half of all falls occur in the home. And for seniors who live alone, a fall in the home can lead to serious injury or even death. That’s why it’s important for seniors to make sure their home is set up in a way to avoid falls. This includes installing extra railings on stairways, adding grab bars near the shower or bath tub, making sure rugs are secure to the floor and creating clear pathways throughout the home that are free of clutter and furniture.
- My doctor wouldn’t prescribe me a medication that could leave me more prone to falls. A number of commonly prescribed medications can cause sides effects such as weakness, dizziness or sleepiness, all of which can make seniors more prone to falls. Be sure to ask your doctor to review the side effects of any medications you’re prescribed. And keep your doctor informed if you are experiencing side effects that could put you at greater risk for a fall.
- Minor falls or slips aren’t worth mentioning. Many seniors are hesitant to admit having even a minor fall because they fear this may lead to them losing their independence. However, it’s extremely important to discuss falls with your family and doctor. Doing so can allow you to re-evaluate your living situation and help you put measures in place to prevent a major fall in the future.
Helping Seniors Stay Independent at Western Home Communities
A fall or injury can greatly impact a senior’s ability to stay independent. At Western Home Communities, we offer a variety of living optionsand programs, all designed to help seniors stay safe, active and independent no matter their age. Contact Western Home Communities today to learn more about our community options and how we help seniors get the most out of life each and every day.