As we get older, we find ourselves doing anything to prevent falling, so today let’s look at how to prevent falls in the elderly and improve stability.
First and foremost, you must understand that no matter how weak you think you are or how inactive you have been, you can ALWAYS improve your situation.
Never underestimate the power of small positive daily action steps that can snowball over time. There are people in their sixties who started going to the gym and ended up with bodies that are better than the majority of people half their age.
Consistent and conscientious action is a force to be reckoned with.
Let’s look at the consequences that can occur should you fall.
This may seem scary to some but it’s important to know the possible scenarios that can result when a senior falls down for whatever reason. Then we can look at ways on how to prevent falls in the elderly.
Dislocations And Fractures
This is one of the most common scenarios that occur when an elderly person falls. Unlike younger people who are more resilient and can handle the impact, older people, unfortunately, have more brittle bones.
Some may even suffer from osteoporosis. The fragility of the bones poses a huge risk during a fall. Fractures can easily occur since the bones are less dense.
It’s easy to dislocate a shoulder or a hip during a fall. It all depends on the force and the direction of the fall. Either way, falling is best avoided.
This is a very real possibility. There are thousands of documented cases of seniors who have died from a fall at home, either in the bathroom or by tripping on the stairs.
Although these scenarios are not pleasant to think about, we need to take steps to protect ourselves and thus help in how to prevent falls in the elderly.
Here are some ways to keep healthy and these can also aid in how to prevent falls in the elderly.
How To Prevent Falls In The Elderly
Commit To Daily Exercising
This is the first and most crucial step. Just like with weight loss, a daily commitment to exercise is a must.
Make a plan and stick to it no matter what. It can be anything from a walk to some exercise with weights. You can even do some recumbent biking while you sit in front of the TV.
Stretching is also great as you get older to keep your joints supple and limber.
Pilates is ideal as it strengthens your core muscles and these are the muscles that keep you stable as you get older and can help you to prevent a bad fall from happening.
There are more suggestions for suitable exercises on how to prevent falls in the elderly further down in this article.
Get Your Blood Pressure Checked Regularly
Often what happens if you stand up suddenly, you may experience a drop in blood pressure, which can result in you feeling light-headed and dizzy.
While these dizzy spells may not last long, they do increase your risk of having a fall.
Best be safe than sorry and check your blood pressure when you’re seated, lying down and when you are standing.
Check Your Eyes
Vision changes so even if you think you can see, get your eyes checked at least once a year and get the right glasses should you need them.
Because you have less cushioning on the soles of your feet as you get older, the sensible thing to do is to get a pair of good quality sports shoes with good cushioning in the soles that you can wear around the house.
The soles must be non slip to reduce the risk of slipping and falling.
Eliminate Household Hazards
Rearrange your furniture if you have to. Make it easier for yourself to move around in your home. There is nothing wrong with sacrificing decor and ambience for safety.
Vive Bathtub Rail – Bathroom Tub Safety Rail for Elderly, Seniors, Handicap and Disabled – Clamp Railing Bath Support – Adjustable Shower Hand Grip – Handle Assist Grab Bar – Fits Most Tubs
- SAFELY ENTER OR EXIT THE TUB: Safely step in or out of the tub with the help of a sturdy bathtub rail. The parallel bathtub grab bar supports up to 300 pounds and provides extra stability and security for seniors, children and those recovering from injury or surgery.
- ADJUSTS TO FIT MOST BATHTUBS: Easily adjustable, the durable steel bathtub rail fits most bathtub edges ranging between 3 to 7 inches thick.
- SCRATCH RESISTANT ERGONOMIC RAIL: Non-wearing rubber pads protect the surface of the bathtub from scratches, scuffs and scrapes during regular use of the safety rail. The ergonomic rounded handle is 14.5” high and provides a comfortable, secure grip.
- SIMPLE TOOL-FREE INSTALLATION: Easily installing on the side of most bathtub styles, the rail uses a stainless steel clamp mechanism to secure the parallel bathtub rail in place.
- LIFE GUARANTEE: Unconditional lifetime guarantee so you can purchase now with confidence.
Improve the lighting in your home. Make sure that items that you frequently need or use are within reach. Do not store important items in high cabinets that require you to climb up stepladders.
If you do need something in a high place, rather than take the risk of falling, ask someone to help you – preferable someone younger and more agile.
Relinquish the desire to show off at how independent you are. People really don’t mind helping out.
Install handrails where needed, especially in the bathroom.
It’s all about being balanced and feeling secure in your space.
Know the Side Effects of Your Medication
If you are on medication, make sure you know which ones make you feel drowsy.
As you age you need to be careful of meds that make you feel sleepy or drowsy, as you will be more susceptible to falls.
These types of meds should only be taken if you are in bed or comfortably seated for a while.
Don’t take these types of meds if you know you have grandkids to play with or you want to do some gardening.
What Exercises Need To Be Done To Prevent Falls In The Elderly?
Doing regular exercise can drastically reduce the chances of you falling, as they improve your strength, stamina, stability and of course, your balance and this is what is needed when it comes to how to prevent falls in the elderly.
Strength For Stability
Strength training involves working with weights or even your own bodyweight.
These are the best bodyweight exercises:
- Pushups of all kinds
- Knee curls (hold onto the back of a chair and curl your knee backwards)
- Toe Stands (hold onto the back of a chair and rise up onto the balls of your feet and lower again)
- Leg Straightening (sit in an upright chair and straighten your leg in front of you, hold and lower)
Do the above as many times as you are able.
Try using a set of light weights.
You can use the weights to do elbow extensions, arm curls and even hold them when you do your lunges and squats for more resistance.
The above exercises are low impact but are excellent for building strength and muscle.
Stamina For Stability
Work on Your Stamina, especially as you get older.
When you were younger, you could easily go for a run or jog. You might have been out of breath after a while if you were not in shape… but you were still able to do it.
However, when you’re much older, running or even jogging may not be an option for you. If you’ve been a runner or jogger all your life, you will still be able to do it when you’re old. If not then you will find you won’t be able to do it.
The best thing to do in this case is walk. Walking is one of the best forms of cardiovascular training.
Cardiovascular exercise is so important because it keeps your heart healthy and gets your blood flowing.
You could start with a 10-minute walk and increase it to 20 minutes until finally, you can do it for 30 minutes. You really do not need to go on longer than 30 minutes unless you really want to. The goal is to get these 30 minutes of exercise daily.
Usually, in your senior years, you will have a lot of time. The overused excuse of not having time to exercise will no longer apply. Ensure that you walk daily.
When walking aim to increase your speed over time. Brisk walking is very beneficial. Gandhi used to walk 11 miles daily and called it the “prince of exercises.”
Other types of cardio that you may do are swimming, stationary bike, rowing machine, etc. Riding on a stationary bike is preferable to riding outdoors for seniors, as the risks of falling are greater.
Stability And Balance
Core training is great for seniors as these are the muscles that keep you strong and balanced. Having a strong core also protects your spine.
Two of the best forms of core training are yoga and Pilates.
If you can find Pilates or yoga classes near you, check if the instructor is able to accommodate an older person in their class.
Most of the people in these classes are usually older and wiser as they know what is good for their bodies.
Cast your fears aside and join a class. As your strength and flexibility build up over time you will start to feel great
Since these are low impact exercises, you will not be breathless. You should progress at a pace you’re comfortable with. If it hurts, don’t push it. Tell your instructor what you can do and what you’re having difficulty with.
If for some reason you cannot get to a class, make sure to do some gentle stretches every day and keep going with your strength training.
The important thing is to listen to your body and do what it feels comfortable doing.
Plank exercises for core strength are one of the best exercises for stability. They are even more effective than sit-ups and crunches, even though they involve less movement.
To make it easier on your palms and elbows, make sure to use an exercise mat, or you can do the planks on your bed.
All of us lose flexibility as we age. That’s why we are more prone to strains, pulls and muscle tears. The key to avoiding all these issues is to stretch for 10 to 15 minutes daily. There is no need to aim for the splits like Margot Fonteyn, but you should stretch to stay limber.
Some examples of stretches include:
- Yoga stretches like a salute to the sun
- Neck rolls
- Arm Rotations
- Shoulder Rotations
- Knee Rotations
- Ankle Rotations
- Calf Stretches
- Sideways bends
- Hamstring stretches
- Quad stretches
Remember that if you are not used to exercising, you will need to get your doctor to check you out and give you advice on how much and what sorts of exercise you should do for your body type.
Please comment below if you have any other ideas on how to prevent falls in the elderly.