Top 5 Causes of Falls

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BrightStar Care of Port Charlotte

For more information about the author, click to view their website: BrightStar Care

Posted on

Dec 04, 2023

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Florida - Sarasota, Bradenton & Charlotte Counties , Florida - Southwest

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Why is Falling Serious for Seniors?

Did you know that older adults often fear falling, even if they haven’t fallen in the past? This makes sense, because falling, even from something as simple as tripping on a rug or slipping on a wet floor can result in broken bones. For an older person, a broken bone is very serious, so for seniors, fall prevention is crucial. A fall can sometimes be the start of serious health problems or lead to long-term disability. More than one in four people over age 65 fall each year(Opens in a new window), and falling causes 90 percent of hip fractures. The risk of falling and breaking a bone increases with age, but there are proactive measures you can take to help your older loved ones reduce their risk of falling and increase their longevity. The first step is to identify fall risk factors with your loved ones, in order to take precautionary measures.

Five Top Causes of Falls

By knowing the top causes of falls(Opens in a new window) in elderly people, you can take steps to protect your older loved ones.

1. Impaired Vision

Older people often have vision problems like cataracts and glaucoma, which alter depth perception and visual acuity as well as limit their peripheral vision, making them more susceptible to glare. These issues can make it more difficult to navigate the home safely and anticipate or notice hazards in time to prevent a fall. Even wearing bifocal or varifocal lenses can affect depth perception and make it hard to go down stairs.

2. Home Hazards

It is easy to overlook fall hazards in the home(Opens in a new window), but being proactive about removing them can greatly reduce the risk of falls. Home hazards include:

  • Steps or stairways that are poorly lit or have loose/unsecure handrails or, worse, no handrails
  • Poorly lit hallways and walkways
  • Clutter blocking pathways
  • Pets that may get underfoot
  • Loose wires, rugs, or other objects that can cause tripping
  • Bathroom or kitchen tile without non-slip tread
  • Showers and bathtubs without non-slip basins, or missing grab bars
  • Important items not kept within easy reaching distance

3. Medication

Certain medications can cause side effects like dizziness, light-headedness, unsteadiness, drowsiness, blurred or double vision, and reduced mental alertness. Some medications can affect balance and cause a drop in blood pressure while standing. Taking four or more medicines, often referred to as polypharmacy, can increase the risk of falling(Opens in a new window), especially with those that are considered high risk medications. Opiates, diuretics, anti-depressants, sedatives, blood pressure medication and anticonvulsants are some examples of high-risk medications that pose a higher risk for falls among the elderly. It is important to talk to your doctor and be aware of any potential side effects.

4. Weakness and Poor Balance

As people age, they lose muscle mass. This can cause problems with balance and gait. To reduce muscle loss, older people should remain active and try balance and strength training exercises like yoga, Pilates and tai chi.

5. Chronic Conditions

Certain conditions, like Parkinson’s, hearing problems, diabetes, heart disease or issues with the thyroid, nerves, blood vessels or feet, can increase fall risk factors. Conditions like diabetes can cause neuropathy, which involves numbness, tingling, weakness, or burning in the feet, and this can make it difficult to walk without stumbling. Heart disease can also make people unsteady on their feet. Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that causes motor symptom that include stiffness, tremor, impaired balance, shuffling gait, and changes to the center of gravity. Incontinence, which causes people to rush to the bathroom, can also increase the risk of falling(Opens in a new window).

Preparing Your Home for Fall Prevention: How to Prevent Falls

Fall prevention at home for seniors is important for keeping your loved ones safe. Here are 10 tips to prevent falls at home(Opens in a new window).

  1. Check stairs and steps to make sure none are broken or uneven and all have sturdy handrails on either side. Install anti-slip stair treads for slippery hardwood stairs.
  2. Make sure there is adequate lighting, especially around entryways, in hallways and at the top and bottom of stairs.
  3. Install grab bars in the bathroom, by the toilet and in showers and tubs.
  4. Remove any throw rugs to prevent them from tripping.
  5. Keep pathways and stairways free from clutter.
  6. Consider adding strips of bright or contrasting colors in places you have trouble seeing, like the stairs or grab bars, handrails or any uneven surfaces.
  7. Keep commonly used items within easy reach to avoid the use of step stools and chairs.
  8. Install a bed rail to provide support getting in and out of bed.
  9. Clean spills immediately to reduce the risk of slipping.
  10. Fall-proof your bathroom with non-slip rubber grips in the shower or tub, a shower chair, hand-held shower head or even a walk-in bathtub.

The Warning Signs and Risk Factors of Falling

The more risk factors(Opens in a new window) a person has, the greater the risk of falling. Pay attention to your older loved ones, looking for signs of the following risk factors,, and consider a risk assessment(Opens in a new window) if you are concerned about any of the following:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Worsening eyesight
  • Declining hearing
  • Uneven gait or poor balance
  • Pain in hips, knees, ankles or feet, including injuries or stiffness
  • Dependence on supports for walking, getting up or sitting down
  • Chronic physical ailments, including hypertension, diabetes, arthritis incontinence, or Parkinson’s
  • Cognitive impairment or decline
  • New prescription medications with side effects that can increase the risk of falling
  • Overuse of alcohol or abuse of narcotics
  • Blackouts or fainting
  • Changes in sleeping habits

High Quality Care for Older Adults

BrightStar Care® takes a comprehensive approach to fall prevention, pairing our unmatched clinical expertise with educational resources to help and empower families. Our agencies can perform a home safety evaluation, assessing possible risks and making recommendations regarding accessibility modifications. Then, at every reassessment, an RN will do a further safety check, educating the client and family on fall risks and ways to reduce them.

Additionally, by contracting for home care with us, you will be ensuring that someone ist there to help with things that could be hazardous, like reaching high shelves, bathing, or climbing stairs. In some cases, physical therapy may be helpful in building strength to prevent falls. When you partner with BrightStar, you gain the assistance of a caring, compassionate team, dedicated to keeping your loved one safe and healthy.

Find a BrightStar Care® Location Near You 

Looking for in-home care services or assisted living for your loved one or a reliable medical staffing partner for your organization? Our experienced local care team members are ready to help. Find a location near you, contact us online, or call 866.618.7827 to speak with a local care expert and learn more about how BrightStar Care offers A Higher Standard®.

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Prevent Falls in Seniors with These Fun Exercises and Activities

No one wants to experience a fall, but for those over 55, a fall can lead to serious injury. Thats why learning how to prevent falls is so important for healthy aging.Heres a look at why falls happen, why preventing them is important, and some exercises and activities that can help older adults build balance and stability, while actually being fun and engaging.To help prevent falls, first understand why they happenHere are some common reasons why seniors fall:Changes in visionWeakening hip and leg musclesPoor posture or spinal degenerationStumbling due to the inability to lift your feetSlower reaction time to obstaclesDrug interactions that result in dizziness or poor balanceLightheadedness caused by low blood pressureWhy its so important to prevent fallsAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 36 million falls are reported among older adults each year, resulting in more than 32,000 deaths. One out of every five falls causes an injury, such as a broken bone or head injury.Working on flexibility, stability, stretching and strength are vital when your goal is to prevent falls so you can live a long and healthy life. Many of the movements are simple, and many are fun activities as well. Always remember to take your time, do what feels comfortable, and breathe deeply. Here are just a few suggested exercises to prevent falls.Getting started: activities and exercises to help prevent fallsDanceDancing is a wonderful exercise for aerobic fitness, weight management, muscle and bone strength and endurance. In addition, moving through space in different directions and in different ways improves static and dynamic balance, spatial awareness, coordination, and reaction time. Dancing is also an excellent way to get all the benefits of socializing and interacting with others on a regular basis. And it can be a lot of fun!Tai ChiThe National Council on Aging reports that many studies have shown Tai Chi to be one of the most effective exercises to prevent falls. Tai Chi targets leg strength, flexibility, range of motion, and reflexes.According to the Tai Chi for Health Institute, with regular practice, Tai Chi improves balance by strengthening muscles and co-ordination; at the same time, it strengthens the mind, thereby improving calmness and confidence in not falling. Thus, both physically and mentally, Tai Chi is an extremely effective exercise when your goal is to prevent falls.YogaYoga is good for so many things that affect healthy aging: reducing stress, treating fatigue, lessening pain, and perhaps most importantly, increasing core strength and balance. This last one can reduce the risk of falling.You dont have to do complicated moves to the benefits. For example, the simple mountain pose can help you improve your posture and body awareness. Stand tall, weight distributed evenly on both feet, keep your knees slightly bent. Draw your shoulder blades together and down your back. Relax your arms and let your palms face forward. Breathe deeply and relax.WalkingNo special equipment required, just a good pair of walking shoes and a place to walk (indoors or outdoors). Add a friend or two and you have a fun way to get a workout that doubles as a balance booster!According to Harvard Health, walking strengthens the muscles in the lower body. It also is a great way to stretch muscles and thus improve your posture, which in turn, can improve your balance. Dont worry about distance, especially if you are beginning a walking program. And dont hesitate to use a cane or walker if you need one. As you feel stronger, add more minutes to your walks. Try to walk at least 150 minutes a week. Wear comfortable clothing, walk with confidence, and breathe deeply.GrapevineHeres an easy move that can help improve your balance. You might begin by being near a wall or a chair to help steady you or hold someones hand if needed. Simply step across in front of your right foot with your left leg. Continue moving across the room sideways, uncrossing the left leg. Repeat. When ready, just reverse direction. Wear smooth-bottomed shoes and concentrate on your movements.At Heritage Communities, we are here to help you live better and live longer.We do this by proactively implementing best-in-class lifestyle enrichments, senior-centric technologies, and the latest approaches to senior care. Our values define how we lead, care, and behave at every community we own. Let us tell you more.We redefine living better. You make it your own. Download our free guide, Family Decision Toolkit. Or contact us today 402-614-5222.

How Do I Keep My Parents from Falling at Home

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Local Services By This Author

BrightStar Care of Port Charlotte

Non-Medical 1777 Tamiami Trail #408, Port Charlotte, Florida, 33948

BrightStar Care of Venice and Port Charlotte is dedicated to providing the best in-home care for you or a loved one. We are a Nurse Owned and Family Operated Private Duty Home Care Agency offering Companion Services (meal prep, transportation, light housekeeping), Personal Care (bathing, dressing, transfers), and Skilled Care (assessments, medication management, med box fills). We also provide Medical Staffing. BrightStar Care is Joint Commission Accredited and Awarded Leader in Excellence, Provider of Choice and Employer of Choice 2016 - 2020 by Home Care Pulse. All caregivers are background checked, drug tested, bonded and insured. We are available 24/7...Just a phone call away!

BrightStar Care of Port Charlotte

Home Health 1777 Tamiami Trail #408, Port Charlotte, Florida, 33948

BrightStar Care of Venice and Port Charlotte is dedicated to providing the best in-home care for you or a loved one. We are a Nurse Owned and Family Operated Private Duty Home Care Agency offering Companion Services (meal prep, transportation, light housekeeping), Personal Care (bathing, dressing, transfers), and Skilled Care (assessments, medication management, med box fills). We also provide Medical Staffing. BrightStar Care is Joint Commission Accredited and Awarded Leader in Excellence, Provider of Choice and Employer of Choice 2016 - 2020 by Home Care Pulse. All caregivers are background checked, drug tested, bonded and insured. We are available 24/7...Just a phone call away!