Caregivers of a senior loved one have usually read the statistics on how dangerous falls can be for older adults. Unfortunately, winter in central Ohio can raise the risk factor even higher. Icy driveways and walkways for those who struggle with balance can be an especially dangerous situation.
If you are a caring for a senior loved one, these tips can help prevent them from taking a potentially debilitating fall this winter.
Fall Prevention Tips for Central Ohio Seniors
Have a Home Evaluation. An occupational or physical therapist can conduct an in-home evaluation of your older loved one’s environment to identify potential problems. They might make suggestions such as installing grab bars by the shower and toilet or better lighting near an exterior door. Talk with your family member’s primary care physician to see who they might recommend and to find out if a physician’s order is required for the evaluation.
Winter Yard Support. Ice on exterior steps or sidewalks can be tough for seniors to manage, especially in central Ohio where winter can go on for many months. Be sure the senior you care for has someone to help maintain their sidewalks, steps and driveway. If they have a tight budget, call their local Ohio Agency on Aging office for help. Many communities have resources for seniors on a fixed income.
Encourage Compliance. One frustration primary care physicians often express in trying to help older adults prevent falls is that many are not compliant with the use of their assistive devices. Most falls happen in the home, yet it is the environment that seniors are less apt to use their cane or walker. Some even fail to wear their glasses at home. Try to encourage your aging parent or senior loved one to use their devices at home and when they are out in the community.
Work on Strength and Flexibility. Seniors often cite fear of falling as a reason for not exercising. However, research shows that regular exercise can promote flexibility, strength and balance. These are all important in helping seniors prevent a fall. Chair yoga, water aerobics, and moderate weight training can all help.
Beware of Medication Side Effects. Some of the medications that are routinely prescribed for health conditions common among seniors can also cause dizziness and falls. Talk with your senior’s pharmacist or family physician to be sure you understand any potential side effects from their medications.