Prevent falls — the leading cause of injury-related hospitalizations and deaths in Ohioans 65-plus — with this simple checklist.
Falls are almost always preventable, but their effects are staggering. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related emergency department visits, hospitalizations and deaths in Ohioans ages 65 and older. And from 2000 to 2012, fatal falls in this Ohio demographic increased 167 percent.
Wondering how you can help your senior parents stay safe, whether they’re at your home or theirs? The National Council on Aging suggests following these steps:
1. Talk to them about function levels, meds, eyeglasses.
You can only do so much. Many aging parents believe they won’t fall — or they won’t get seriously hurt. Discuss their current health conditions and if they’re having trouble managing their medications. Ask them if daily tasks are more difficult than usual, and always be sure their eye prescription is up to date.
2. Notice warning signs and take action.
If your parent is holding onto walls, furniture or other people when walking, it’s time to see a physical therapist to improve strength, balance and gait. The same goes for having trouble getting up from a chair. The physical therapist will likely want to discuss walking aids. Some aging adults may be resistant to using a cane or walker as they see it as a loss of independence.
3. Do a fall risk assessment walk-through.
Is the carpet on one pesky step torn? Is the kitchen step stool wobbly? Is the bathtub slippery? Consult a doctor, physical therapist or occupational therapist for a safety assessment, which is covered by Medicare for adults 65 years and older. The medical professional will walk through the home, looking at lighting, stairs, bathrooms, bedrooms, the kitchen and common spaces to ensure the fall risk is minimal.