I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to live in their home for as long as they choose. However, a fall at home can result in an injury that makes independent living difficult, often resulting admission into a nursing home.
The risk of falls is a huge health problem for the elderly. Five percent of Canadians 65 years of age and older experience a fall-related injury annually, with falls being the cause of 90% of all hip fractures in seniors.
Any plan to help seniors remain living at home should start with a full assessment that looks at both the person and the home. The home environment is a significant area to focus on to reduce the risk of falls. Area rugs should be removed and loose or worn carpeting should be repaired. Look for electrical wires and other obstacles or tripping hazards in traffic areas. Consider installing grab bars in bathrooms. Examine stairways for tripping dangers and slippery surfaces. Ensure that lighting is adequate. How will walkways be cleared of snow and ice?
What kind of foot wear is worn at home? Well fitting sports shoes provide a good grip on most surfaces, while slippers are often a tripping hazard. Regular physical activity is an excellent way to improve balance and coordination. Physical activity should be challenging, but not be dangerous or painful. Walking and yoga are great options, but it’s a good idea to check with your physician before embarking on any exercise program.
A regular medical assessment and medication review can be very helpful in identifying potential issues that contribute to falls. People may be taking medications that contribute to dizziness or confusion. Often these may be stopped, or switched to something more appropriate. People who suffer from incontinence are more likely to experience a fall due to frequent trips to the bathroom. Poor vision can also contribute to a fall. These are just some of the issues that, when identified and dealt with, can improve a person’s safety at home.
If you or someone you care about is concerned about their ability to remain at home, please make an appointment with our Certified Geriatric Pharmacist to see how the right pharmacy can make a big difference.