While circus clowns and comedians may stir audiences to laughter over such stunts as slipping on a banana peel, there’s nothing funny about falling when it comes to seniors, who happen to be at a heightened risk for serious injuries which could bring about a long rehabilitation process. Not just that, but there is a lesser known complication that frequently comes from a senior’s fall: a fear of falling again which is overwhelming enough to impact quality of life and health.
As the saying goes, “Once bitten, twice shy.” It is natural – and sensible – for a senior who has fallen to choose to take precautions in order to avoid a subsequent fall. Yet for many, the fear of falling inhibits important physical exercise, resulting in reduced balance confidence and weakness, both of which might actually raise the danger of falling again.
Instead, it’s vital for older adults to:
- Strengthen muscles. Ask the physician and/or physical therapist for appropriate exercises to engage in after a fall. Building strength is an extremely important component to avoid future falls.
- Assess the house. Walk through the senior’s home to check for any clutter, cords, throw rugs, etc. which could cause a tripping hazard. Make sure there’s plenty of lighting and install grab bars in the bathroom and anywhere else supplementary support could be beneficial.
- Talk about it. Older adults may feel embarrassed for having fallen, but it’s worthwhile to talk about what occurred in order to evaluate which preventative measures should be taken to ensure it doesn’t occur again.
It’s also beneficial for seniors to establish goals, with the assistance of a medical expert, and to work towards attaining them. The goals need to be reasonable and fairly easily attainable however, to instill confidence, such as having the ability to walk up and down the stairs independently while holding the handrail in the next fourteen days, or walking the complete length of the backyard within four weeks.
Once an objective has been set, define the steps necessary to reach that goal. What types of exercises will help strengthen the muscles necessary to go up and down the stairs, or to take a lengthier walk? And in case the goal is not achieved, consider what prevented the accomplishment, and what further steps can be taken to set and reach a new goal.
Above all, make sure to provide reassurance and support to cheer the senior on towards regaining his/her self-assurance and confidence and also to lessen any anxiety.
For additional advice on preventing falls and ways to regain confidence after a fall, or to arrange for a free in-home safety assessment, reach out to the experts in in-home care in Mattawan and other Michigan communities at Home Sweet Home In-Home Care. Call us any time at (269) 963-9888 in Battle Creek, (269) 373-5444 in Kalamazoo, (269) 763-5350 in Paw Paw, or (269) 849-9252 in St. Joseph. For a full list of the communities we serve, please visit our Locations page.