One of the most frightening things to witness is an older adult falling; it’s an experience that can leave your feeling helpless and squabbling to help and find the most immediate solution. There is guilt that whatever caused the fall could have been prevented, there is embarrassment from the one who fell, and all are left feeling ill prepared to deal with these extremely common occurrences. Let’s take a look at why typically older adults fall, what steps caregivers can take to prevent them, and what steps should be followed when a fall occurs.

Falls occur when there is a challenge to our balance or our strength. In aging adults, there is typically a combination of many different factors that contribute to a higher risk of falling. Some medications can alter a person’s sense of normal; often affecting their blood pressure or creating dizziness. Other degenerative health problems such as loss of eyesight and hearing can affect one’s balance. Chronic numbness in limbs can increase fall risks. Health-based risks can be hard to prevent, and also difficult to assess as they often are very gradual. Establishing a relationship with a trusted medical professional is key in the long-term tracking of one’s medically influenced fall risks. 

Other fall hazards are environmental factors that can generally be prevented or avoided. Removing tripping hazards such as loose throw rugs or protruding thresholds is important. Addressing icy sidewalks as well as risky footwear are also smart preventative measures. Experiences that are normal for younger adults, such as walking the dog, need to be assessed to make sure that they can still be safely performed by the aging adult in your life. Step ladders, stools, beds with protruding risers or legs…removing household products that provide an increased risk of falls is a good idea.

If a fall occurs, as a caregiver, you need to take immediate action through the lens of a medical professional. Falls are embarrassing and it’s likely that someone who has taken a tumble will try to devalue the seriousness of the fall. It is important to assess the situation without listening to the ‘I’m fine, it’s no big deal’ script. Injuries can be slow to develop, especially a head injury or muscle soreness and bruises. Being seen by a doctor or other medical professional is best practice after a serious fall as they will be trained in the best way to assess long-term medical issues.

No matter preparation, prevention, and forethought …falls will happen. The best intentions can not prevent 100% of accidents. Stay calm, stay supportive, and continue to assess both health and environmental risks to make the life of your loved one safe and secure. Burlington Health Care understands about caring for aging adults. They specialize in providing modern health care products that can improve safety and mobility.