Tripping and falling is a common problem for older adults. In fact, in the United States alone, about a third of seniors experience a fall each year. It’s important to understand that it doesn’t take much of a fall to cause a great deal of harm. For this reason, it’s very wise for seniors to take proactive steps to retain and gain fitness and good balance. It is also important for friends, family members and caregivers of older adults to exercise care and consideration in creating and maintaining a safe, tidy environment that is free of tripping hazards. In this article, we explore these two aspects of preventing falls in the elderly. Read on to learn more.
Staying Fit Helps Seniors Enjoy Life
Very often seniors begin paring down their life experiences because they are afraid of falling. As the video above demonstrates, it really does not take a lot of extreme exercise to help seniors stay strong, fit and able to continue enjoying life fully.
Doing a few simple balance exercises and a bit of stretching throughout the day can go a long way toward helping seniors attain and maintain functional fitness and good balance and reflexes. It’s all too easy to give in to the temptation to rest and relax during retirement, but it’s better and healthier to look at this phase of life as an opportunity for new experiences.
Seniors should continue pursuing current interests by adapting them to current capabilities. It is also smart to look into new interests such as yoga, dancing, singing, art, etc. Joining a local senior center can be a great way to learn about new interests that can support health, fitness, mental acuity and well-being. All of these pursuits work together to enable active seniors to stay strong and avoid falling.
What Health Challenges Cause Falls?
As we age, our bodies naturally slow down a bit and wear out a bit, but it’s important to understand that adapting is much smarter than resigning to these changes. Reduction in the ability to see, hear and respond quickly can be managed with regular vision and hearing care, along with proper medical supervision to help make the most of abilities (rather than focusing on disabilities).
1. Look into convenient meal services. To support remaining mentally and physically active, seniors are well-advised to eat well, sleep plenty and otherwise take good care of themselves in order to stay healthy, strong and alert to avoid falls. Services such as Meals on Wheels or some of the commercial meal delivery services can make it easier for seniors to eat well without having to do a lot of meal preparation. Some senior centers also serve lunch for seniors every day. This arrangement gives seniors an opportunity to socialize while enjoying a healthy, affordable meal.
2. Take your vitamins. Eating a healthy, balanced diet can help seniors’ bones stay strong, and this can help prevent falls. It’s also wise to take a regular multi-vitamin and supplement with Calcium and vitamin D3.
3. Add good habits and reduce or eliminate harmful ones. Adding 15 to 20 minutes of light-to-moderate exercise and stretching to every day keeps muscles and bones strong and improves balance. Refraining from smoking and/or drinking alcohol also helps keep bones strong.
4. Get plenty of good rest. Developing a regular sleep schedule is very important to maintaining health, strength and alertness. Many seniors find that they don’t need or want to sleep eight hours a night, but they do enjoy and benefit from occasional cat naps and an afternoon siesta. Finding and following a comfortable, restful sleep schedule contributes greatly to overall good health and happiness.
5. Manage your medications. Very often, older people are prescribed a number of medications to deal with many and varied maladies and conditions. Sometimes these drugs can cause sleepiness, dizziness, weakness and/or confusion. This is especially true if medications have negative interactions. It is important for older people and their caregivers to understand and watch for medications side effects. Review all medications with the doctor on a regular basis to change or eliminate those that may be causing problems or interacting negatively.
6. Be aware of your health conditions. The development of some medical conditions, such as circulatory problems, neuropathy, heart disease, diabetes, high or low blood pressure, etc., can contribute to a senior’s likelihood of falling. Proper diagnosis of these sorts of conditions is extremely important, as is complete understanding of the situation by the senior and his or her caregivers. All should be realistic about the possible symptoms and effects of these conditions and make adjustments and adaptations accordingly.
7. Always wear good shoes. Simple adaptations, such as always wearing secure, sturdy, well-fitted, non-slip shoes, can go a long way toward preventing falls. Overall, good foot support and protection will help prevent foot injuries, slipping, tripping and falling. Seniors should avoid going barefoot or walking around in socks. Shoes and slippers with good treads can be a lifesaver.
8. Use a buddy system. Seniors who have trouble with vision and hearing are well advised to venture out into the community only in groups or with a companion to help prevent falls caused by such simple problems as failure to see a step or curb. This kind of adaptation can be easy and natural for seniors who stay in touch with old friends and acquaintances and/or partake of activities and outings available through senior centers, local houses of worship and other organizations.
9. Reach for support. Use of a cane or walker in potentially challenging situations (or consistently if needed) can prevent dangerous falls. Mindful adaptations, such as rising slowly to avoid dizziness can also be incredibly helpful.
Make Home A Safe, Fall-Free Space
In addition to staying fit and active, senior falls can also be prevented with good housekeeping and smart, simple home adaptations. Here are some top fall-proofing tips:
Be Aware & Alert To Avoid Falls
Avoiding falls in your senior years is entirely possible. Be practical and aware of the changes in yourself. Take positive, measurable steps to stay strong and healthy and work within your abilities. Adjust and adapt your activities and your surroundings for maximum safety awareness. Stay open to new experiences to enjoy a safe, active, enjoyable retirement.
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