While comedians and circus clowns may stir audiences to laughter over such stunts as slipping on a banana peel, there’s nothing funny about falling when it comes to aging parents, who happen to be at a heightened risk for serious injuries which could bring about a lengthy rehabilitation process. Not just that, but there is a lesser known complication that oftentimes comes from an elderly person’s fall: a fear of falling again which is extreme enough to affect quality of life and health.
As the saying goes, “Once bitten, twice shy.” It is normal – and sensible – for an older adult who has fallen to wish to take precautions to avoid a subsequent fall. Yet for some, the fear of falling impedes important physical activity, leading to weakness and reduced balance confidence, both of which could actually enhance the risk of falling again.
Instead, it is essential for seniors to:
- Strengthen muscles. Ask the doctor and/or physical therapist for recommended exercises to engage in after a fall. Building strength is a key component to protecting against future elderly falls.
- Assess the home. Walk through the senior’s home to check for any throw rugs, cords, clutter, etc. that may cause a tripping hazard. Ensure there is sufficient lighting and install grab bars in the bathroom and anywhere else supplemental support might be helpful.
- Talk about it. Seniors may feel embarrassed for having fallen, but it’s worthwhile to talk about what occurred to be able to decide what preventative measures can be taken to ensure it doesn’t occur again.
It’s also helpful for seniors to set goals, with the aid of a medical expert, and to start to work on attaining them. The goals must be reasonable and fairly easily attainable, however, to instill confidence, such as having the ability to walk up and down the stairs independently while holding the handrail within the next two weeks, or walking the whole length of the backyard within a month.
Once a goal has been set, determine the steps required to achieve that goal. What kinds of physical exercises will help strengthen the muscles required to go up and down the stairs, or to take a longer walk? And if the goal is not achieved, think through what prevented the accomplishment, and what further steps can be taken to set and reach a new goal.
Most importantly, make sure to provide encouragement and support to cheer a senior loved one on towards regaining his/her self-assurance and confidence and lessen any fear.
For additional useful information on preventing elderly falls, or to arrange for a complimentary in-home assessment, reach out to the aging care experts at Seniorcorp, one of the leading home care agencies in Virginia Beach and the surrounding communities, any time at 757.640.0557.