April is No Falls Month, and Right at Home Australia would like to share some valuable tips on how to keep yourselves and your loved ones safe and upright. Each year millions of people seek hospital treatment after a fall. The World Health Organization reports that approximately 30% of people over the age of 65 will fall every year. Some will die as a result of their fall injuries, and many more will experience disabilities that lead to a loss of independence.
According to the Australia & New Zealand Falls Prevention Society, in New South Wales alone, the population of people aged 65+ is expected to rise from 1.27 million people in 2017 to 2.27 million people in 2051, increasing the cost of hip fractures from an estimated $139-209 million in 2017 to $321-482 million by 2051.
Here are 10 fall prevention tips.
Do you have health conditions such as arthritis, vision loss, osteoporosis or memory loss which raise the risk of falls? What can you do to lower the risk? Be open with your doctor about your fall history. Studies show that half of older adults injured in a fall don’t tell their doctor about it—but they should. Falling just once doubles the chance of falling again. Keeping quiet about it could mean missing out on some valuable fall prevention advice.
Ask your doctor to “prescribe” an exercise routine for you, which will likely include activities to strengthen muscles, build endurance, increase flexibility and improve balance. There’s an exercise program for almost everyone, no matter their limitations. Gyms, senior centres and recreation centres offer exercise classes for older people, though these days exercises you can do at home may be more practical. Exercise need not be formal, either. Dancing, gardening and house cleaning also be a workout.
Some falls are caused by disorders of the vestibular system, located in our inner ear, which is important for our sense of balance. These disorders often can be treated. We also can improve our balance abilities. Ask your doctor about a balance class, with special exercises and activities such as tai chi that actually improve proprioception—our sense of position. The wrong shoes also can affect our balance and stability, so have them properly fitted.
Experts say it’s a great time for older adults to give their homes a safety inspection—because these days, we are likely spending most of our time at home! Look around for hazards, remove clutter that could trip you up, improve lighting throughout the house, and add grab bars in the bathroom and other key areas. Also, be sure there is a clear path to walk through the house.
The medications we take help us manage health conditions that raise our risk of falls. And yet, either alone or combined with other drugs, many prescription and over-the-counter medications can cause dangerous side effects, such as dizziness, confusion and drowsiness. Bring a list of all the medications you take to your doctor or pharmacist and report any side effects when starting a new drug.
Not surprisingly, vision loss is a top risk factor for falls. In some cases, vision can be improved with eyeglasses. Keep your prescription up to date, and if you wear bifocals or progressive lenses, ask your doctor if a second pair with single-vision lenses might be safer for walking. Our ears also provide a lot of important information about the environment around us that can help us avoid falling, so if you have hearing aids, use them.
Getting the right nutrients promotes muscle and bone strength. Calcium, protein and vitamin D intake are particularly important. Healthy eating also helps maintain a good weight. Talk to your doctor about an eating plan that’s right for you. Be frank about your alcohol intake too, if that’s a problem. Drinking too much ups the fall risk quite a bit.
Canes, walkers and other mobility devices help many older adults maintain their stability and avoid falls while walking. However, it’s important to use these devices correctly. A physical therapist or other professional can recommend an appropriate device, make sure it is properly fitted, and train you in its safe use.
Many falls happen when older persons aren’t fully aware of their surroundings. Today, the main culprit might be your smartphone. There’s a stereotype of a young person walking along while texting, even in intersections. But experts tell us older adults are doing it, too! Even talking on the phone while walking can distract us. Stop to make that call, or wait until later.
For many families, hiring professional in-home care is a way to achieve the above goals. Right at Home caregivers can remove clutter, supervise exercise, provide transportation to healthcare appointments, pick up prescriptions, and provide appropriate care for people with Alzheimer’s disease or other memory loss. Today, many fall prevention classes and activities are taking place via videoconferencing. The caregiver can help with that, too! Seniors who might hesitate to be active gain an extra measure of confidence when a professional caregiver is at hand—a great way to break the cycle of falls and fear. Family members, too, are more confident knowing their loved one has help nearby.
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Founded in 1995, Right at Home offers in-home companionship and personal care, and assistance to seniors (elderly and aged care), and any adult who needs our care at home including adults living with a disability who want to continue to live independently or age in their home. Right at Home is your local expert for issues related to caring for your loved ones and is dedicated to keeping you informed about home care. With no admin or subscription fees Right at Home allows you to get more care from your package or budget.
Right at Home is a 'My Aged Care' government approved, home care provider for levels 1 – 4 and offers flexible in-home care services such as nursing care, after hospital care, post-operative care, respite care, dementia and Alzheimer's care. Right at Home also offers assistance with daily living and personal care such as grooming, hygiene, transport, shopping, meal prep, domestic services and social support, so your loved one can enjoy a more independent, vibrant life. Our nurses and caregivers are screened, highly trained, and insured prior to entering your home so you can trust us with the caregiving while you focus on your loved one.
To find out more, please give us a call on 1300 363 802 or visit our website.
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