The number of falls continues to rise in the aging population and some of these falls have serious consequences. Skilled Nursing Facilities, Assisted, and Independent Living communities all struggle to balance safety and the independence of their residents. Particularly during the winter months, with ice, snow, and harsh weather conditions, the chance of a fall increases. Seniors value maintaining their freedom of movement around their communities and are frequently adverse to many safety measures that we might want to put in place to prevent a fall.
How can you build safety into a person’s life while maintaining their independence?
- Incorporate exercise in daily routine: Twenty minutes of progressive strengthening and balance activity.
- Mind medications: Sleeping pills and sedatives can cause dizziness, HTN meds causing postural hypotension.
- Modify environment: Eliminate area rugs, reduce clutter, clear path to restroom, install grab bars, ensure furniture will not topple if used to hold on to.
- Be mindful of your outdoor environment: Keep an eye on weather conditions and limit going outside if there is rain, snow, or ice. If you do need to go out, make sure you have proper footwear, use a walker or cane (if appropriate) for stability, and take it slow!
- Use proper lighting: Illuminate path to restroom.
- Schedule restroom trips: Do not wait too long so you can go slowly and not hurry.
- Select footwear: Use shoes with a back and nothing that you slide into, use sole or socks with tread.
- Single focus lenses: Better for walking outside than bi-focal lenses.
- Use recommended walker or cane: Ensure it is fitted for the person.
- Soft floors: Carpeting is preferable as it is softer on a fall.
- Offer a Tai Chi class: Two to three times per week, emphasizes weight shifting, postural alignment, and coordinated movements with synchronized breathing incorporating music.
Functional Pathways’ Wellness Program and Skilled Therapy services have trained professionals and programs designed for helping Senior Living communities reduce falls while maintaining seniors’ highest level of independence. It is all a balancing act!
Brittany Austin, MBA | National Director of Health and Wellness