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Identifying Fall Risks to Support Fall Prevention

WellAge Fall Risks

According to the CDC, millions of adults over 65 (equivalent to about one-in-four) fall every year. Falls can not only be physically dangerous, but they can also be costly and frightening.

If you have a parent or family member who lives on their own, it’s important to understand fall risk factors and take steps to support fall prevention.

WellAge Senior Living proudly manages independent living, assisted living, and memory care communities throughout the Denver, Colorado, area. Each of our communities is committed to ensuring the health, safety, and overall well-being of residents and guests, which is why we want to highlight some significant risks for falls and ways to prevent them. 

Why Falls Can Be So Serious 

A child or young adult falling may result in some bruising or a sprained ankle, but [in most cases] there is usually no significant injury. When older adults fall, however, the aftermath can be more severe, including broken bones, fractures, and head injuries. Every year falls result in over 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments across the country. 

In addition to physical injury, falling can also cause emotional damage. After falling, an adult might understandably feel frightened, embarrassed, or lose confidence. These feelings could result in them becoming less active and social—leading to isolation, depression, or other health concerns. 

What Puts Someone More At Risk To Fall?

Several factors might make someone more likely to fall, ranging from physical conditions to hazards around the home. 

Physical factors that may increase a person’s risk of falling include:  

  • - Poor vision, including decreased night vision, a decline in depth perception or spatial awareness, and low peripheral vision 
  • - Cognitive impairment, including slower reaction time 
  • - Use of medication that may cause drowsiness, instability, or dizziness 
  • - Difficulties with walking or balance; uses a walker or a cane 
  • - Lives alone
  • - Foot problems or pain, including unstable shoes 

Environmental factors that may increase a person’s risk of falling can include:  

  • - Throw rugs 
  • - Loose clutter or other items that could be tripped over 
  • - Poor lighting
  • - Loose, broken, or uneven steps on a staircase 
  • - Cords or wires on the floor 
  • - Cracked or uneven sidewalks 
  • - Baggy or loose clothing, unsafe shoes 

Understanding Fall Prevention 

By understanding the common causes and risks of falls, you can work to create a safe environment for yourself or a family member and reduce the risk of falls and injuries. Here are some steps you can take to prevent falls. 

Evaluate and Talk with Your Parent or Family Member About Their Overall Health. 

  • - When was the last time they had their eyes examined? 
  • - Are all their medications up-to-date and properly taken? 
  • - What are (if any) the side effects associated with their medications?
  • - If they have a chronic condition, is it being appropriately managed? 

Knowing the answers to these questions will give you a better understanding if they are at a higher risk of experiencing a fall—which is especially important if they live alone. 

Pay Attention To How Your Parent or Family Member Walks and Navigates Around Their Home. 

  • - Do they seem off-balance? 
  • - Do they have trouble getting up from a chair? 
  • - Do they try to grab onto the walls or furniture for balance when moving from one place to another? 
  • - What shoes do they wear around the house? (Loose, worn, or backless slippers are one of the most common causes of falls)

If they have difficulty walking, encourage them to start working on balance and strength exercises, like yoga or Tai Chi. If their gait and balance are significantly impaired, you could also encourage them to see a physical therapist. 

Do a Home Safety Assessment. 

Taking a simple walk-through assessment of your family member’s home can give you great insight into any hazards or safety concerns that may exist. To make their home safer, ensure that there are none of the dangers or environmental risks listed above. 

Remove any clutter or throw rugs, make sure the stairs are secure with handrails, place non-slip mats in the bathroom and shower, install proper lighting (especially in high traffic areas like stairs and hallways), and form a clear path in every room to prevent tripping or crowding.  

Live Safe and Live Well

Falls can be a serious risk, but the risk can be minimized with the right prevention. By understanding what causes falls and how to prevent them from happening, you can ensure you and your family are safe at home. 

If your parent or family member lives alone and you are concerned about their safety, it could be time to consider additional care options. WellAge Senior Living has communities throughout Colorado that aim to continue life’s best experiences. Our assisted living services are ideal for individuals who want to maintain comfort and independence but may need assistance or extra attention in some areas.

If you think you or your family could benefit from assisted living at WellAge, we invite you to contact a member of our team and learn more about our communities.