Aging in Place and the Danger of Falls

December 15, 2018 | BY PHS Staff

Here at Preferred HealthStaff, we specialize in at home care services that allow a client to age in their home. This is commonly referred to as “aging in place,” and it offers a number of benefits to clients and their family members who care for them. There are hazards to look out for when aging in place though. Falls, for example, can be a big problem for seniors aging at home.

Falling can become more common as people age, and unfortunately, they can be more damaging to older clients. It’s something we always watch out for, and fortunately at home caregivers can help prevent such falls by taking a few steps.

Why Falls Become More Common

According to the CDC, one out of three adults over the age of sixty-five will fall over within a year’s time. Falls become more common when seniors get older for a few reasons. Reflexes can be reduced, making it harder to avoid a fall. Seniors can just become a bit less coordinated over time, making stairs and other parts of their environment a potentially deadly obstacle. Balance problems, weaker joints, and a variety of other health problems can also be factors.

Why Falls Are a Problem

Falling down is never fun, but when you’re younger you can generally get up and brush yourself off, moving along like nothing has really happened. Falling down when you’re older can cause more problems though. Older clients that our home care providers work with can have issues like osteoporosis, which causes weaker bones. A simple fall that wouldn’t bother you could cause broken bones and serious injury in a senior. Falls are actually one of the biggest causes of fatal and non-fatal injuries among older adults, with millions of them making a trip to emergency rooms due to a fall each year. This is a preventable problem that we focus on every time we provide our at in-home support services.

How to Help Prevent Falls

Fortunately, falls can be preventable. Lifestyle changes and adjustments to the home environment can both help seniors stay safer as they age in place. If you have a senior aging in their home, make sure that you clean up any clutter. A younger person might be able to slip through a crowded hallway or living room, but an older person may struggle. Trying to avoid obstacles can result in a potentially deadly fall, so make sure that anything that can be put out of the way should be.

Keeping up on medical care is also important. Make sure that eyeglasses are updated if they need to be. Ensure that a senior is getting enough crucial nutrients, like calcium and vitamin C. If a client has been diagnosed with osteoporosis, medication can help their bones stay stronger. Starting up an exercise program can also help a client stay healthy, become more coordinated, and potentially avoid falls.

Making some small changes around the house can be a crucial step when opting for age in place home care. Make sure that lighting is adequate and that rugs and carpets won’t provide slipping hazards. Also install grab bars in places like the bathroom, where slips are more common. With some preparation, you can be less worried about your senior falling down and injuring themselves.