More than one out of every four older individuals falls each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Also, falling once doubles an older adult’s risk of experiencing another fall, which is why it’s important to take steps to minimize your senior loved one’s risk of slipping or falling as much as possible. Here’s a closer look at what could happen if your parent does fall.
1. Bone Breaks/Fractures
Seniors sometimes fall and come away with nothing more than temporary soreness and maybe some black and blue marks. When injuries do occur because of a fall, one of the most common ones is a bone break or fracture. The part of the body affected will depend on what areas are directly impacted, but it’s not unusual for fall-related fractures to occur in wrists, arms, hips, knees, or ankles.
Falling is just one of many concerns for older adults who choose to age in place. Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality elder care. Palm Desert families trust Home Care Assistance to help their elderly loved ones age in place safely and comfortably.
2. Head Injuries
Fall-related head injuries can be especially dangerous for seniors. This is especially true if your loved one is taking medications like blood-thinners that decrease blood’s clotting capabilities. If your loved one hits his or her head during a fall, err on the side of caution and take him or her to the doctor. Even if no immediate signs of a head injury are present, symptoms may develop later due to inflammation around the brain. According to the North Carolina Medical Journal, fall-related head injuries affecting seniors could also contribute to:
• Headaches and fatigue
• Confusion and cognitive impairment
• Decreased alertness
• Behavioral changes
• Sleep-wake cycle impairment
• Hearing and vision changes
3. Decreased Mobility
If your parent falls, the impact may damage bones and joints in the lower body that help with mobility. Even if none of these bones or joints are fractured, they could still become more susceptible to damage from existing issues your loved one may have with arthritis, brittle bone disease (osteogenesis), or osteoporosis. The result could be reduced mobility, which may contribute to a more sedentary lifestyle and additional health problems.
Home care experts are available to provide high-quality care to seniors on an as-needed basis. From assistance with mobility and exercise to providing transportation to the doctor’s office and social events, there are a variety of ways professional caregivers can help your aging loved one continue to live independently.
4. Difficulty Sleeping
Lingering aches and pains from a fall could make it difficult for your loved one to get a good night’s sleep, which may be especially problematic if it takes several weeks or months to fully recover from the injuries. The resulting lack of sleep may have an impact on daytime alertness, mental clarity, and mood.
5. Fear of Falling
Even if your parent falls and isn’t seriously injured, he or she may develop a fear of falling. This fear may cause your loved one to be less active, which could make the muscles that affect stability weaker, increasing the risk of falling. While not all fall-related injuries are preventable, you may be able to lower this risk by:
• Removing fall hazards like oddly placed furniture or unsecured throw rugs from your loved one’s home
• Talking to the doctor to see if your parent may benefit from medication or diet adjustments to strengthen the bones and joints
• Getting appropriate assistive devices, like a walker or cane, if your loved one has existing mobility issues
Family caregivers have other responsibilities in life and may not always be available to help their loved ones prevent falls and other health issues. Some seniors need occasional assistance at home, and oftentimes the family members who take care of them need time away to run errands, take a nap, go to work, or take a vacation. Palm Desert, CA, respite care experts from Home Care Assistance are available on an as-needed basis, giving your family peace of mind that your loved one will remain safe and comfortable while you relax or focus on other important responsibilities. To find out how we can best assist your loved one at home, call (760) 345-0001 today.