The figures associated with senior falls are saddening. Falls are classified as the primary reason behind injury in the elderly, and result in hundreds of thousands of hip fractures every year, together with the countless other injuries experienced. As prevalent as falls for seniors are, the danger is more than doubled for people with osteoarthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Why Does Osteoarthritis Raise Fall Risk So Dramatically?
There are many contributing factors:
- Pain. The joint pain that occurs as a result of arthritis leads to up to an 85% higher chance of falling, based on how many painful joints a senior loved one has and which joints are afflicted. The pain will naturally cause older adults to avoid utilizing the joints generating pain, leading to muscle weakness and unsteadiness.
- Pain medications. While pain itself is sufficient to put older adults at a greater chance of falling, the very prescriptions meant to help may cause harm as well. Prescription pain meds, particularly narcotics, cause drowsiness and dizziness – both key causes of falls.
- Functioning difficulties. Joint and knee stiffness and the mobility challenges this may cause modifies how an older adult moves and walks. Each step taken normally places 80% of our body weight onto one limb; but seniors with arthritis pain will discover strategies to compensate for the discomfort, which could place them off balance.
Tips for Preventing Falls
Taking steps to avoid falls is essential for seniors with osteoarthritis. There are two crucial elements to fall prevention:
- Increase physical activity. Research reveals that improving flexibility and building muscle strength and balance will decrease the possibility that a senior with arthritis will experience a fall. Encourage a senior to talk to his or her doctor first, and then try these low-impact exercises:
- Tai chi
- Weight training
- Assess the home environment. A walk-through of a senior’s home often helps identify any possible hazards and ways to make any necessary modifications to enhance safety. For instance, remove clutter/obstacles/cords blocking walking paths, add grab bars in the bathroom, make sure sturdy handrails are in place alongside stairs, and install additional lighting.
Let Grace Home Care, providers of award-winning home and live in care in Topeka, Kansas help reduce fall risk for an older adult you love even further. We’re on hand to perform a thorough assessment of the home and provide tips to enhance safety. We are also able to assist with:
- Medication reminders
- Transportation to medical appointments, exercise classes, and anywhere else an older adult would like to go
- Housekeeping and meal preparation
- Safe walking and transfers
- Picking up prescriptions and groceries and running various other errands as requested
- Companionship to motivate seniors to stay active while remaining safe
- And much more