Fear of falling is a very common and scary thing for many seniors. The fear of falling is one of the most significant factors that increases the risk of a fall, and this fear is particularly prevalent in those who have fallen previously. Because the fear of falling is such a significant factor in older adults’ fall risk, addressing it directly with both the senior and caretakers offers the best opportunity for preventing or reducing falls. Have a discussion with your loved one about factors that could increase the risk of falling, including decreased visual acuity, weakening muscles, unsafe home settings, medications, and cognitive decline. In our last blog, we covered 3 important ways to help reduce fears and fall risk and today we’ll cover a few more.
1. Get a Walking Aide
Having a walking aid item like a cane can make a huge difference in giving your senior the confidence to go out and walk around on their own. These assistive devices can be very helpful in reducing a senior’s fear of falling, but when used improperly, they could actually increase the risk of a fall. When introducing new equipment, the senior should work with trained professional who can make sure that the height and style are appropriate for the needs of the senior. Medicare will often cover an assessment of this equipment or even a home safety assessment. Ask the older adult’s primary care physician if she can order an assessment or physical therapy visits. For those who still have difficulty walking with a cane, wheeled walkers with a seat are a great choice. The handles on the back allow the senior to walk with extra support, while the seat in the front offers a place to stop and rest whenever necessary.
2. Be Aware of Special Considerations for Dementia Patients
Dementia can increase the risk of falls. Dementia is not just the decline of memory. It also impacts judgment and visual acuity. Most of the home safety suggestions offered here will help reduce the risk for someone with dementia, but there are other adjustments that might need to be considered for someone with dementia or other cognitive issues, including bringing in additional help such as a companion or personal care provider.
3. Live with Assistance
If you have a fear of falling, moving to a retirement community, assisted living, or skilled nursing facility might be the right choice for you. Each is a step up from the last. Retirement communities and assisted living is independent living for seniors who want to continue to live independently while having the option to get some help with certain tasks of daily living. In a skilled nursing facility, more assistance is available and is available 24 hours a day. Seniors receive assistance with transferring, bathing, toileting, and walking; all things that become more difficult to do alone as we age and pose a risk for falling and hurting oneself. These facilities also offer improved lighting, hand rails, ramps, open shower areas, and other amenities designed to help those who may need a little extra help.