As most humans can attest, fear is one of the greatest obstacles to overcome. It can eat away at you, keep you from doing what you love, and stop you from experiencing life to the fullest. For seniors, fear of falling is one of the most common and sometimes debilitating fears. If you notice your loved one staying home more, in their recliner when you stop over for a visit, and noticeably shaken, address your concerns. Often, a senior will fall and, if no injury occurred, leave it unreported.
Fear of Falling
Millions of seniors fall every year. Even though 90 percent of falls do not result in a physical injury, they do leave an emotional scar. Once someone falls they are twice as likely to fall again as another person who has never experienced a fall. This is believed to be due to the shuffling and unsteady gait, and off-centered balance that occurs when someone is trying to be careful as they walk so as not to fall. A vicious cycle results with loss of confidence and self-limiting behavior that leads to decreased mobility and an increase in falls.
Let your parent know that they should always report falls when they occur, whether or not an injury was sustained. This can then be reported to their primary health care provider. There are many issues that may be at the root of their increasing susceptibility to falling. These include medications that cause balance issues and dizziness, disease processes that cause balance issues, failing eyesight, changes in blood pressure or blood sugar levels. Their doctor may also recommend a physical therapist, mobility aid, or class designed to promote confidence and ease this type of fear.
It is a catch-22: as your parent’s fears increase, they become less mobile, resulting in decreased muscle mass thus increasing their chance of falling. To ensure they stay strong, schedule exercise into their daily activities. If you are acting as a family caregiver, consider scheduling walks into your daily tasks that will benefit both you and your parent. If they prove too fearful, consult with their doctor. A physical or occupational therapist can often ease their fears and get them moving in the right direction. Tai chi is a gentle form of Chinese martial arts that has proven beneficial for seniors. It increases balance, muscle strength, and promotes mindful awareness. It has become so popular that many local senior community centers offer a class designed just for seniors. Other classes they may offer are specific fall-prevention programs.
Help your loved one remain safe at home by providing a safe environment. As a family caregiver, you know the common pathways your parent uses as they traverse throughout their home. Follow these paths and make sure there is no tripping or slipping hazards such as throw rugs or obstacles such as wires, clutter or furniture that is encroaching. Make sure their lighting is sufficient and install grab bars in appropriate places such as the shower and by the toilet. If your loved one needs assistance with everyday activities, a home care provider can offer help and encouragement.
For caregivers in Cherry Hill, NJ, and the surrounding areas, call and talk to us at Home to Stay Healthcare Solutions (856) 321-1500.
Home to Stay Senior Care Solutions is owned and operated by the Dubler and Skole Families and was started because of experiences they had with their own Families. In one situation Mom was living alone and had a fall. It was not until this fall that the family realized they were unprepared.
When it was time for their Mom to come home, she needed companion and personal care to assist her and prevent another accident. Like most people in this situation, they were confused and did not know where to go for help. It was this life-changing experience that lead to starting a home care company that is focused on enabling those who wish to stay at home and age in place.
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