New Age Innovations In Fall Prevention For Elders
Fall prevention for elders can be done with new-age innovations that make an older adult’s home and surroundings a safe space to live in.
Fall-related injuries are one of the common problems we hear about the elderly’s health. According to the US Centres for Disease Control & Prevention, one in four Americans aged 65+ falls each year. Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults. Estimates in India show that nearly a third of the people above the age of 65 and 50 per cent of those aged 80 and above, have a fall at least once a year, according to a report in Hindustan Times.
“Falls are the sixth leading cause of death among people over 65 years old. If it doesn’t kill you, then it will lead to serious health conditions needing hospitalisation,” Dr Rajesh Malhotra, head of the orthopaedic department and chief of the Trauma Centre at AIIMS has been quoted saying in news reports recently.
While there are several risk factors for falls (weak muscle, arthritis, balance problem, vision, etc), some falls happen inside the house, where the elderly feel safest. This is often due to factors that can be easily taken care of. With new-age innovations, homes can be made fall-proof to the best extent possible. Fall prevention at home starts with creating a safe space and here’s how you can do it.
Fall Prevention in the Bathroom
One space that’s highly prone to falls is the bathroom. Slippery floors and difficulty in navigating the toilet area often lead to falls in the bathroom. However, this can be easily avoided. You do not need to remodel the entire bathroom. You can simply install fall-prevention accessories that will help your loved one use the bathroom with safety and ease.
Install grab bars and handrails. Some grab bars come with four hand grips that make it easy to climb to a standing position slowly from the toilet seat or bath chair, without straining your knees or your back.
SK Birla who installed a grab bar for his wife says: I purchased the Curve Grab Bar by Stander for my wife who is 82 years old. Once it was fitted, my wife’s remark was – “This is my dream handle. I am getting all the support and relief what I wished for!”
Toilet frames are also another good option with support available on both sides of the toilet seat. The width can be adjusted according to your toilet seat, making getting up a smooth experience without the fear of falling.
It’s also important to make the bathroom nonslip. Bathtubs, shower areas, as well as the bathroom floor can become dangerous when wet and slippery. Anti-slip bath and shower stickers have excellent slip protection, are non-abrasive and easy to clean. You can also use rubber grip bath mats that come with suction grips and drainage holes so that water does not accumulate.
Fall prevention in the Bedroom
One of the best ways to avoid falls in the bedroom is to stow away clutter. Remove rugs, electrical cords and anything that may come in the way and make an elderly person trip and fall.
In some cases, the elderly may fall off from the bed. This could be due to disorientation, vertigo or even poor balance. Bed rails such as these are very useful at such times.
“It’s the best thing I got for my mother,” says Pratibha C. “She rolled off the bed in her sleep and I needed an immediate solution. This is such a blessing. Lightweight yet strong. Pullout for full length if needed. Has pockets where my mom keeps her tissues, Pain balms, mobile, even a small bottle of water that she can just reach out easily. Folds down easy in the day. So easily that my mom with her Parkinson’s hands can manage it on her own.”
Bed rails come in various options depending on the usage: Whether you want one simply for fall protection, or another which would also serve the purpose of helping to get in and out of bed. You can see a wide range of bedrails here.
Fall Prevention while Walking
Another leading cause of falls among the elderly is lack of balance when walking. These falls can occur inside or outside the house. A walking stick is the most common aid if your elderly loved one’s balance isn’t what it used to be. There are walking sticks that provide additional support for people with arthritic/painful hands. Explore various options before finding the one that works for you.
Elders who like to be out and about on their own and go for long nature walks might find the EZ Fold and Go Walker of good use. It’s ultra-light-weight and portable and can be fitted anywhere – in your car or your shopping cart.
If your elderly loved one has a neurological condition, then the uniquely designed and patented U-step II Walker (pictured above) would be an ideal solution to mobility issues. For elders with conditions like Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis or a history of stroke or brain injury, this walker can drastically improve your gait.
If you get tired easily and prefer to take rest at short intervals while walking, some rollators come with a seat option. The 2-in-1 Rollator and Transit Chair turns into a transit chair with a simple flip of the footrest, and the seat and backrest are padded for comfort when seated. There is an under seat bag for carrying small items. It easily folds and can be transported with you wherever you go.
Before you buy a walker, evaluate what the use is going to be. Are you going to be on uneven surfaces or outdoor areas often? Do you need a walker with wheels or without? How much of grip does it have and does it support your body properly? Does it fold or pack up easily? Consult a physical therapist if possible or enquire about the product and whether it suits your requirement from the place you are buying. “Avoid being one of 3 seniors who fall above the age of 65,” says Smita Dalmia, Director, ElderEase. “Identify the problem and ask us for solutions.”
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