How to protect grandpa and grandma from falling
There’s no upside to falls
Each year in the United States, 2.5 million seniors (age 65+) fall and have to seek help in an emergency room. Of that number, 700,000 are admitted to the hospital. Even more startling, falls are the leading cause of fatal injuries among adults age 65 and older.
Shonette Doggett, an Injury Prevention Program Supervisor at Regions Hospital, says although the statistics for falling are staggering, falls are often preventable. “Simple things such as improving lighting, placing non-skid backing on rugs and making sure items in the cabinet are reachable, can help prevent falls,” she says.
Doggett recommends using this home safety checklist to use the next time you visit the home of a loved one who is a senior:
Your loved one is also at greater risk for falling if they:
- Drink alcohol or take medicines that affect alertness, gait and balance.
Encourage your loved one to have their doctor or pharmacist review their medications regularly. Chronic diseases like stroke, diabetes, low blood pressure and osteoporosis also make falls more likely. Be sure your loved one is receiving proper treatment and follow-up if they have one of those conditions.
- Don’t exercise.
This leads to muscle weakness, and slower reflexes. Exercising regularly will help them build strength and improve balance and coordination.
- Eat poorly.
Help your loved one establish good nutrition in their routine. They should have a protein source at every meal and get enough calcium and Vitamin D.
- Have unexpected vision changes, poor eyesight or blindness.
Make sure your loved one is having their vision checked at least once a year. You’ll also want to ensure the glasses they wear are up-to-date with their current prescription.
Looking for care for your loved one?
Make an appointment with one of our providers:
- HealthPartners Senior Health
- Park Nicollet Senior Services
- Diabetes care, Eye care, Heart health and Osteoporosis and Rheumatology care in the St. Croix Valley
You can also purchase many of the aids needed to make your loved ones’ home safe – such as grab bars and toilet booster seats – at the Park Nicollet Store.
Preventing falls at a community level
Regions Hospital has teamed up with the St. Paul Fire Department to educate St. Paul seniors with fire and fall prevention information. This information comes from the National Fire Protection Association’s Remembering When program. Seniors are educated during home visits that Regions Hospital and the St. Paul Fire Department make. Regions Hospital has also partnered with Cottage Grove and Maplewood Fire Departments to offer presentations of the program in those communities.