We all know what causes senior citizens to fall, right? They slip on the ice, or trip over a curb, or fall down the stairs.
But those aren’t the only—or necessarily even the most important—hazards that send elderly people to the hospital with fall injuries. Here are some less obvious fall hazards that are every bit as dangerous as that patch of ice.
Malnutrition/dehydration. For many of us, aging means we start to lose feelings of hunger and thirst. Keeping fed and hydrated becomes even more of a challenge when we live alone, and mealtimes are no longer special events. We don’t set out to weaken ourselves, but sometimes it happens anyway.
Prescription medications. Even taken correctly, prescription medications can affect our ability to move around safely. Blood pressure medications, for instance, can lead to lightheadedness, and antidepressants and sleep medications can reduce alertness and cause fatigue. By the time we hit 65 we’re taking 14 prescriptions in a typical year. These meds can do wonders, but they’re serious business.
Nonprescription medications. Just because a medication doesn’t require a prescription doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be taken with care. Nonprescription medications can interact with prescription meds, sometimes with dangerous consequences.
Inadequate lighting. As our eyes get weaker, lighting becomes more and more important. With an aging loved one, it’s important to make sure the whole house is well lit, including hallways. While you’re at it, have a look for glass tabletops as well. If they’re not easily visible, it would be a good idea to make them so.
Obstacles. Weakened eyesight also makes obstacles more dangerous. All those old books and magazines may still be a treasure, but they belong out of the way. Electrical cords are also an issue; if a cord goes across the middle of a floor, it’s time to reroute it or cover it up.
The bathroom. There may come a time when getting up and down from the toilet becomes a big deal for some of us. The same goes for stepping into a bathtub shower. For an elderly person who is frail or weak due to illness, a bathroom can be a dangerous obstacle course.
Each of these hazards can be mitigated or eliminated by an observant friend with a little time. At Stay at Home, that’s what we do; one of our primary jobs is to minimize the chance that a client will fall. After all, every time a senior goes into the hospital after a fall, there is a serious chance they will never make it back home.
So if you have a loved one who can use some help watching their food and water intake, scheduling and taking medications, turning that domestic obstacle course back into a nurturing home, please get in touch.