Wheelchairs: Mobility Options for You

Seniors And Falls: FAQ

Falls count as a major cause of injury in the senior population, with an estimated three million older Americans requiring emergency room care for such injuries each year. Falls can cause such serious problems as hip fractures, especially in seniors already troubled by bone-weakening conditions such as osteoporosis.

If you worry about your senior loved one's safety, you can benefit from a basic understanding of common fall risks as well as helpful measures to reduce those risks. The answers to these frequently asked questions should help you develop an action plan for protecting your elderly friend or family member.

Why Do Seniors Face Elevated Fall Risks?

Advancing age can produce a variety of physical challenges that make falls a particular threat to seniors. For instance, the inner ear can lose some of its ability to interpret spatial position and regulate balance, while nerve problems can rob the feet of sensation. Failing eyesight, weak muscles, or stiff joints may promote falls in seniors.

Many seniors take medications to manage chronic illnesses. Some medications can impair alertness or balance, raising the risk of falls. The more medications a senior regularly takes, the higher the fall risk for that individual.

How Can Senior Medical Care Reduce Fall Risks?

Regular physical and neurological evaluations can help reduce fall risks in seniors by allowing physicians to spot potential problems that might affect balance or stability. Your senior loved one's doctor will ask the senior about any recent symptoms such as dizziness or weakness that might call for diagnosis and treatment.

If a combination of drugs seems to cause these symptoms, the doctor might find a way to swap out one medication for another. This simple substitute could eliminate dizziness or disorientation while still treating the patient's condition adequately.

What Devices Can Help Seniors Avoid Falls?

Your senior loved one might have an easier and safer time getting around the house once you've installed some assistive devices. Handrails on stairs, in bathrooms, or along hallways can provide much-needed extra leverage and stability. You might also consider installing extra lighting for senior loved ones with vision problems.

How Can Physical Therapy Help Seniors?

Fall prevention therapy for seniors can help these individuals improve their stability, balance, strength, and flexibility, thus reducing their risk for falls. An experienced physical therapist can evaluate the individual's current capabilities and then devise a personalized exercise program that addresses specific weaknesses.

Different exercises can play different roles in fall prevention rehabilitation for seniors. Simply standing on one leg, for instance, can help improve balance. a senior with mobility problems can benefit from practicing walking in circles or through obstacle courses. Strength training can help prevent leg muscles from failing at the wrong moment.

Discuss these and other fall prevention strategies with your senior loved one and that person's primary care physician. The right preventative measures can reduce injury risks and enhance the overall quality of life. 

For more information about fall prevention therapy for seniors, visit a local center.