Falls are the leading cause of death in America for the elderly. Statistics show that 50% of persons hospitalized after a fall will never be able to live independently again. Of those hospitalized, only 50% will be alive one year later. Also, many seniors after suffering a fall will isolate themselves from social situations due to the fear of falling again.
Health issues that may cause walking and/or balance concerns include the following:
- Cognitive impairment for poor safety awareness.
- Side effects from medications.
- Dehydration and lack of a nutritious diet.
- Inner ear issues or Vertigo
- Limited Vision
- (U.T.I.) Urinary Tract Infection
- Shortness of breath
- Low blood sugar levels (Diabetes are at a higher risk)
- Neuropathy or Arthritis making it difficult to walk.
- Weakness due to a stroke, illness or surgery.
- Lack of exercise causing loss of muscle tone
Fall prevention techniques you can implement:
- Chairs should not be too soft, no wheels and have arms.
- Always lock wheelchairs when not in motion.
- Sit up straight on the edge of the chair or bed before standing up.
- Once standing, stand for a few minutes to get your balance and focus on your next step.
- Add grab bars in showers and near steps. If one has balance issues it might be best to use a shower bench as well.
- Use a recliner that has the ability to lift you out of the chair.
- Make sure the environment is well late.
- When assisting someone: Do not try to stop a fall, try to support their head and ease them to the floor. If behind them when falling, slide the person gently down your body.
- Never let someone you are helping place their arms around your neck for support. They might pull you down if they lose their balance.
- If balance is an issue for the person, always use a two-wheel walker.
- Wear sensible shoes. Do not wear thick soled shoes, heels, slippers, flip flops or heels.
- Keep the environment clear of clutter
May your future journeys be filled with safe walking!