If you or your loved one have fallen recently, you already know that it can be a frightening experience. A fall can cause physical consequences, as well as challenges with confidence and independence. No matter if the fall caused an emergency room visit or not, you can find yourself feeling shaken as the person who fell or as someone who loves the person who fell.
Unfortunately, falling is quite common in older adults. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about one in four adults over the age of 65 fall each year. However, that number is estimated to be higher as not all falls go reported to adult children or physicians. Falls can cause serious injuries, like traumatic brain injury or broken hips, as well as less serious scrapes and bruises.
Fortunately, there are some steps you can take after a fall to ensure your physical and emotional health bounces back as quickly as possible. Here’s what you need to know.
Focus on the Emergency at Hand
First things first is to follow up with emergency care as needed. If you or your loved one has fallen in the past few days and there are signs of injury, such as a sore body part or decreased range of motion, it’s time to seek out medical intervention.
Use Mobility Devices as Prescribed
If your physician or physical therapist has prescribed a mobility device, like a walker or cane, be sure you are using it correctly. Believe it or not, most people need a few lessons to ensure they are getting the greatest benefit from their device, so don’t be afraid to ask for lessons until you are confident.
Plan for a Successful Discharge
If a fall requires care in a hospital setting, planning for a successful return home begins immediately. Work with your hospital’s discharge planner to ensure that you or your loved one will be ready to return home with the right support. You might find that planning a stop at a healthcare community for extended recovery and ongoing therapy services is the best decision before returning home.
Medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, can cause side effects that can increase the risk of falling. For example, medications might cause someone to feel lightheaded, dizzy or exhausted, which might lead to a fall. Take time to bring your current medication list to your physician or pharmacist to see if anything is a concern.
Review Medical Conditions
A fall can also be caused by medical conditions, both diagnosed and undiagnosed. Review your current medical conditions with your physician and determine how you are coping with symptoms. This is especially important if you live with a neurological condition, such as Parkinson’s disease, or other chronic conditions like diabetes.
Take a Look at the Environment
Falls can happen anywhere, but most often occur in the home. There are some easy adjustments you can make to a home that can reduce the risk of falling. Try adding grab bars in the bathroom as well as skid-free flooring to the shower. Secure the edges of all rugs in the home and ensure cords or other clutter aren’t in the way of pathways throughout the home.
Swap Out Shoes
Poor fitting footwear, whether shoes or socks, can be a common culprit for causing falls. Work with a physical therapist to find sturdy shoes and slip-free socks or slippers that you can feel confident wearing around your home.
Perhaps most importantly, don’t let a fall keep you from doing things you love or moving freely around your home. While it is common to feel less confident and maybe even a little scared, all those feelings can leave you sticking to your favorite chair too long. A sedentary lifestyle reduces strength, flexibility and range of motion, which in turn can lead to more falls. It’s a vicious cycle, but you can prevent it by staying active.
A fall can be scary for you and your loved ones. However, the right recovery plan can make a big difference to your confidence and peace of mind. Retirement communities, such as The Glen, are a great option to not only mitigate future falls, but to also feel more confident about response in the aftermath of a fall.