When an elder (defined as anyone over the age of 65) falls down, injuries can range from minor bumps or bruises to serious injuries, including bone fractures or even brain injuries. Studies have also shown that even minor falls which produce minute injuries can cause once active elders to become fearful of another fall. Thereby leading them to reduce or eliminate activities they once enjoyed, which can then lead to depression and isolation. Fortunately, there are simple steps that San Diego elders can take to prevent falls, or at least reduce the chances of a fall.
5 Common Factors that may increase a San Diego elder’s chances of falling include:
- Prescription Medication
- Deteriorated Balance & Motor skills
- Aging Vision
- Pre-existing Medical Conditions
- Home Environment
There are facts, and then there are myths with respect to how a fall may affect an elder in San Diego. A great deal of information about elders and falling, can be found on the National Council for the Aging’s website, “Debunking the Myths of Older Adult Falls.” In the meantime, here are five simple steps that San Diego elders can employ to reduce the chances of falling in the home, or elsewhere.
Stay in Well Lit Areas
As the eyes age, the retina loses its ability to take in light, making it difficult to distinguish contrast in our vision. By making sure that an elder can clearly see, with well-lit areas, elders can better identify obstacles in the home, the store, or even outside. For seniors who enjoy night or early morning hours, make sure that plenty of lamps or light switches are within easy reach, so that the environment is well lit, when they are not in bed.
To that end, many elders find it helpful to avoid wearing glasses that change tints when going from bright sun to indoors. Although this is convenient, it is recommended that seniors change lenses upon entry. However, if the preference is to wear tint changing lenses, elders should wait until the tint has transitioned before proceeding inside fully from being outside in the sunshine.
It is vital that elders, who wear glasses or other corrective lenses as prescribed by an eye-care professional, have regular vision checkups to ensure the prescription is still adequate. In particular, San Diego elders who have compromised vision, may need to visit a low-vision specialist more frequently for additional assistance, and to adjust prescriptions as necessary.
Safety Measures for Steps, Staircases, and Railings
If there are steps or staircases in an elder’s home, it is often useful to secure railings on both sides of the steps in order to allow for easy ascent or descent.
In the bathroom, adding grab bars to bathtubs, showers, and near the toilet also provides for increased safety and ease of use. If the option is available, installing a hand-held shower and/or shower chair may also be a smart preventative measure.
Assistance from Your Health Care Provider
Regular physicals and checkups are a necessary part of preventative medicine, with many screenings covered under basic health insurance. San Diego senior citizens appearing to have, or expressing difficulty with walking, balance, or other motor skills, may benefit from the assistance of a physical therapist. Physical therapy can provide an exercise regimen that can assist with improving balance and general motor skills. If necessary, a physical therapist may recommend assistive devices, such as walking canes or four-wheeled walkers. Assistive devices and physical therapy may be covered under your elder’s health insurance plan. Contact their primary care physician (PCP) or health plan provider for additional information.
Taking Prescriptions in A Timely Manner
It is important that prescribed medications are taken on their recommended dosing cycles, but staying on track can present a challenge. A simple pill box or a medication dispenser affixed with a timer may help elders in San Diego to better coordinate taking medications as prescribed. If they are experiencing side effects, talk to their healthcare provider or pharmacist to seek alternative medications.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, as the saying goes. Elders in San Diego need to be aware of the increased risk of falling as they age, and be willing to take preventative measures wherever possible in order to avoid potentially serious injuries.
If you are concerned that a friend, family member, or loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, contact an experienced California elder abuse lawyer to evaluate your case and advise you on your next steps. San Diego Elder Abuse Lawyer, Christopher Walton, has built a reputation for providing compassionate and strong advocacy for victims of elder abuse and their families. Call (866) 338-7079 for a confidential consultation.