While circus clowns and comedians may stir audiences to laughter over such stunts as slipping on a banana peel, there’s nothing funny about falling when it comes to senior loved ones, who are at a greater risk for serious injuries which could result in a prolonged rehabilitation process. Not just that, but there’s a lesser known complication that oftentimes comes from an older adult’s fall: a fear of falling again that is extreme enough to affect quality of life and health.
As the saying goes, “Once bitten, twice shy.” It’s natural – and sensible – for an older adult who has fallen to choose to take precautions to stop a subsequent fall. Yet for some, the fear of falling impedes necessary physical exercise, contributing to reduced balance confidence and weakness, each of which can actually increase the danger of falling again.
Instead, it is essential for seniors to:
- Strengthen muscles. Ask the physician and/or physical therapist for recommended exercises to engage in after a fall. Building strength is an extremely important component to preventing future falls.
- Assess the home. Walk through the older adult’s home to check for any cords, clutter, throw rugs, etc. that may cause a tripping hazard. Ensure there is sufficient lighting and install grab bars in the bathroom and anywhere else supplementary support could be helpful.
- Discuss it. Seniors may feel embarrassed for having fallen; however, it’s worthwhile to talk about what happened in order to know what preventative measures should be taken to make sure that it doesn’t take place again.
It’s also beneficial for older adults to set goals, with the assistance of a medical expert, and to start to work at achieving them. The goals must be practical and fairly easily attainable, however, to instill confidence, such as being able to walk up and down the stairs independently while holding the handrail within the next fourteen days, or walking the total length of the backyard within one month.
Once a goal has been set, figure out the steps necessary to get to that goal. What kinds of activities can help strengthen the muscles required to go up and down the stairs, or to take a lengthier walk? And in case the goal is not achieved, consider what prevented the accomplishment, and what additional steps could be taken to set and reach a new goal.
Most importantly, be sure to provide reassurance and support to cheer an older adult on towards regaining his/her self-assurance and confidence and also to lessen any fear.
For more recommendations on fall safety, or to arrange for a complimentary in-home safety assessment, reach out to the Atlanta dementia help and aging care experts at Atlanta Home Care Partners any time at (404) 228-0103. View ur full service area.