How to Talk to Your Loved One About Fall Prevention
Are you worried a friend or someone you love might need help getting around? Talking to your loved one about fall prevention and mobility aids can be hard to do. Few adults want to admit they need help getting around or that it might be time to give up some of their independence.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four adults over the age of 65 experience a fall, but less than half of these folks will tell their doctor about it. And one in five falls among older adults result in serious harm, such as a hip fracture or head injury, that requires hospitalization. So, if you are concerned about a loved one’s safety, it may be up to you to help them get the help they need.
What should you look for?
- Difficulty standing up and sitting down.
- Difficulty with walking, balance and mobility.
- Unexplained bruising or injuries.
- Signs of dizziness or forgetfulness.
- Marks or wear on walls, door frames, furniture and other household items being used for stability and support.
How can you help?
Talk to their doctor:
- You need to be able to talk openly with your loved one and their doctor about fall risks and prevention. You should tell your loved one's doctor right away if they have fallen, seem unstable or could be at risk for falling.
- Keep a list of all your loved one’s medications to show their doctor. If your loved one is unsteady or at risk of falling, the medications they take could affect their balance or make them feel dizzy.
- Ask their doctor about vitamins or supplements they could take to improve their bone and muscle strength.
- Have their eyes checked by a doctor at least once a year. Seeing clearly can decrease their risk of falling. Make sure your loved one replaces their glasses or contacts as needed.
- Have their doctor check their feet once a year. Ask about inserts and proper footwear. Their doctor may recommend they see a foot specialist.
- Check with their doctor about the best type of exercise for them or any recommendations they have.
- Get your loved one involved in activities that improve balance and strengthen muscles. Tai Chi and water aerobics are easy ways for seniors to get active. Check out fitness activities at a Florida Blue Center near you. These activities do not cost anything to join.
- Enroll in SilverSneakers included at no additional cost though their Florida Blue Medicare Advantage health plan.
Make their home a safe place:
- Keep floors clutter free.
- Make sure hallways and staircases are clear.
- Remove throw rugs or use a mat or tape underneath to prevent the rug from sliding or folding.
- Add grab bars and railings in the bathrooms and near stairs for added support when walking, standing or sitting.
- Have them wear shoes or socks with grips on the bottom. Wearing normal socks could increase their risk of slipping.
- Make sure all areas of the house are well lit. Replace dim or old lights with brighter lightbulbs and use nightlights for extra guidance during the night.
When starting a conversation with your loved one, keep these tips in mind:
- Offer to help them or find someone who can help them.
- Suggest creating a personalized fall prevention plan. Start by talking about all the ways to prevent falls (listed above).
- Make sure they feel comfortable talking to you if they do experience a fall.
- Make sure they know you care and will be there for them.
- Ask them what medications they are taking and if their side effects could result in dizziness.
Here are some talking points to get your conversations started:
- Ask open-ended questions such as, “how do you feel about…?” or “what would you like to do about…?”
- “How’s the house? It must be hard to keep this place clean.”
- “Is there something I can help you with?”
- “How have you been lately? What’s the doctor saying these days?”
- “Yes, I agree with…. But on the other hand…”
- “That sounds upsetting for you… Have you thought about…”
Are you interested in learning more about fall prevention? Keep a lookout for more blogs that will help you know when it’s time to use a mobility aid and what mobility aids are available to you!
Filed under: Medicare News