According to the National Council on Aging, the leading cause of injuries – both fatal and non-fatal – for elder Americans is falling, which makes home care for elderly in their own homes or finding the right living situation key for staying happy, healthy and whole.
Here are just a few statistics as reported by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
25% of elder Americans aged 65 and up fall every year.
Every 11 seconds, an elder visits the hospital for emergency treatment due to a fall, while every 19 minutes, an elder passes due to a fall.
In addition to falls being the leading cause of death for seniors, they’re also the leading cause of “nonfatal trauma-related” medical admissions.
2.8 million seniors are treated in emergency facilities each year, which include more than 800,000 hospitalizations and 27,000 deaths.
In 2015 alone, falls resulted in $50 billion in medical bills with Medicare and Medicaid covering 75% of the expense.
As we see from the statistics above, even those falls not resulting in death can prove to be tragic for the seniors in our lives, both financially and in loss of mobility. Even if the one you love doesn’t end up visiting a doctor due to a fall, the mere fear of falling can decrease quality of life resulting in his skipping activities and social gatherings or her becoming anxious, depressed or isolated. Contrary to popular belief, however, falls don’t have to be inevitable. With ample planning, some pragmatic lifestyle improvements and elderly assistance, the danger of falling can be considerably decreased.
So how do you know if the elder in your is at risk of falling?
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
Is the home a safe environment? If not, what elderly assistance modifications can be made and how quickly?
Have his eyes been check lately? Can he see and identify walking hazards, obstructions and sharp corners?
Does she have the equilibrium, flexibility, stamina and physical coordination to be independently mobile? If so, what exercises will help sustain this level of physical health? If not, what can be done to build both physicality and confidence?
Is he on any medications that could cause dizziness or other weaknesses when it comes to gait or overall mobility?
Does she have any chronic conditions that affect mobility? If so, does her medical team have any ideas for elderly assistance or how to offset these risk factors?
Something else to keep in mind is your own influence. Who among us doesn’t know that self care is important? And yet as caregivers, many of us ignore our own needs. However, when you encourage self care behavior in the senior you love and model the behavior in your daily life, it’s a win/win, as you both enjoy better health and happier days. Since we know that more sedentary seniors are at greater risk of falls, appropriate strength training and balance training will go a long way, as will ensuring medications and vision/eyeglass prescriptions are as they should be. Of course, ensuring the house, yard and overall home environment are both safe and conducive to your loved one living his or her best and safest life, will go a long way in providing peace of mind for the entire family.
According to the National Council on Aging, 84% of caregivers report a need for additional information about caregiving topics such as home care for elderly in their own homes. This is one reason we continue to provide you with articles like this. However, know that we’re here to help in other ways as well. Willamette Valley Resources & Referrals considers all aspects when pairing you or a loved one with a suitable senior living community or housing situation that fits your family’s needs and lifestyle. There are many important things to consider when choosing senior living, and understanding the various types of communities can go a long way in determining your future happiness. We have knowledgeable professionals to help guide you every step of the way! Contact us today to learn more.
Below is a fall prevention conversation guide for caregivers. We found it useful and we hope you do too.