Experiencing a fall as you age is always scary, but even more so when it has serious medical ramifications. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that one in five senior falls can lead to broken hips, broken bones, and even traumatic brain injury. Of the nearly 800,000 seniors who are hospitalized from fall-related injuries each year, 300,000 of them are treated for hip fractures. Even more shocking? They have found that 95 percent of hip fractures are caused by falling.
As a caregiver, how are you supposed to interpret these statistics? It can be easier to assume that a life-threatening fall will never happen to your parent, but what do you do when it does? Once you learn about proper elderly fall prevention, you can begin a conversation with them about how to remain safe without giving up too much of their independence.
Start the Conversation About Senior Falls
Just because you start the conversation, it doesn’t mean that your loved one will listen or be amenable to the suggestions that you are making to them. If your first attempt at talking to your loved one about the dangers of senior falls isn’t a success, don’t give up and end the conversation.
Here are some tips for how you can keep the conversation going:
Do Some Homework. When you come armed with statistics about senior falls, it could help to make your loved one feel like you’re not simply singling them out. For instance, does it make you feel better to know that 87.5 percent of caregivers said senior falls were the biggest threat to their aging loved one’s safety and independence in a recent Medical Guardian survey? Knowing you are not alone in the experience can help soften the blow of how your life may be changing. When you know that 1 out of every 3 Americans over the age of 65 experiences a fall each year, you realize that you might be more at risk than you anticipated.
Be Sensitive To Their (Difficult) Emotions. Aging is not easy, and in addition to many of the physical hardships an elderly parent has to navigate, there are also myriad emotions to sort through as well. Many people struggle with a loss of confidence or self-worth as they enter retirement and these feelings can be compounded when they think they may lose their independence as well. If your parent is particularly stubborn, try to be patient and compassionate and understand that this process is probably just as hard for them as it is for you.
Use A Fall Risk Assessment Tool. If your parent seems to think that they will not fall, or that they experienced a fall on a “fluke,” it might be time to bring in the experts. A fall risk assessment tool is an excellent way for them to gauge their actual risk level when it comes to senior falls, and could provide the push they need to move forward with a fall prevention plan. Medical Guardian offers a free fall risk assessment tool on our website, so that you can not only figure out whether or not your loved one is at risk, but also match them with the best medical alert device for their lifestyle based on the results.
Consider The Financial Angle. Many people only think about the physical or emotional ramifications of senior falls, but not necessarily the financial aspect of them. The reality is that senior falls contribute to billions of dollars in healthcare bills each year. Yes, billions. A recent study from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimated that the health-related costs of senior falls will reach nearly $60 billion by 2020. Many of the expenses are incurred by using ambulances, ER visits, extended hospital stays, surgeries and then rehabilitation or home care afterwards--all of which many seniors do not think about while giving you a hard time about putting together a fall prevention plan.
A Plan For Elderly Fall Prevention
Once you’ve stated your case and have gotten your loved one on board with the need for an elderly fall prevention plan, you must be ready to act immediately. Fall prevention in the elderly means providing them with some sort of safety net, so that if they fall in the bathroom or while you are at work, they have an immediate course of action to take. A medical alert system is the most effective safety net you can provide for your loved one. It will keep them connected to an emergency operator 24/7, so that no matter when they fall, they’ll have speedy access to help.
A medical alert device, however, is only the first step in elderly fall prevention. As a family caregiver, there are plenty of additional measures you can take both inside and outside of the home that will help to keep your loved one safe from senior falls. Whether that means making modifications to their home, implementing a new exercise routine or changing their diet, these measures can keep your elderly parent protected.