Aging brings lots of health concerns along with it which is a natural part of life. Elder adults are more vulnerable to injuries especially due to falls but this doesn’t mean that we can’t do anything to prevent this phenomenon. With some prudent measures and alertness, it is very much possible to prevent injuries while aging.
There are many fall prevention measures that one can try which is effective for all high-risk group people as well as for elder people who had already undergone fall associated injuries to prevent its recurrence risk in the future. With aging bones get weak and fragile due to lack of sufficient nutrients in the body such as Calcium and Vitamin D the two vital essences that nourish your bone’s health.
Aging-related falls and injuries are very common incidents worldwide. In fact, in America, every one out of four older adults falls every year. This is the primary cause of both fatal and non-fatal forms of injuries in people aging above 65. The most common areas that get injured due to falls in elderly people include hips fracture, ligaments fracture, ribs fracture, and head injury.
It is the fear of falls and injuries risk thereon that becomes a reason for anxiety and depression in older adults whether they have faced any or not yet. This restricts their daily life activities as well as the quality of life they lead usually. However, the good news is that the risk of aging-related falls and injuries fear can cope up with some effective tricks that make the life of elderly people more comfortable and safe.
Common Reasons for Falls in Older Adult
Reduced Vision- Among aging-related deterioration in physical health, reduced vision is the vital one. This reduced level of vision while aging makes older adults more vulnerable to falls especially in places where there is very deem light or no light source is available. Due to aging very lesser amount of light reaches the eyes of aged people retina which makes it difficult for them to see obstacles in the path, tripping hazards, and contrasting edges.
Loss of Balance- With aging most of us lose our flexibility, coordination level, and ultimately whole body balance that otherwise save us from falling and getting a victim of injury. This primarily happens in older adults because of inactivity or a sedentary lifestyle that makes the way of falling easier.
Improper Home Interior- Sometimes it is the imperfectly set or uncomfortable interior of homes that increase senior people’s risk of falling. With aging, some modifications in home interiors are not wrong especially if an older adult is living alone. In the lack of appropriately placed home internal environment, the safety level of senior people reduced with aging by increasing their risk of falls and injuries thereon.
Certain Medications Intake- Certain prescribed as well as over-the-counter medications develop side effects like dizziness, severe dehydration, etc which increases older people’s risk of falls to a great extent. Also, many older adults have to take blood-thinning medications especially in the case of arteries blockages that increase their health risks as well as complications chances that can even lead to death if they met any trauma. As falls and vehicle accidents are the two most common causes of injury in aging people so these two primary concern areas must be taken into account proactively.
Chronic Health Conditions- Chronic health conditions are very common among older adults such as arthritis, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. Often these health conditions increase the risk of falling in elderly people. These chronic illnesses dwindle or deteriorate the normal functioning ability of different organs that are required to maintain balance and avoid the injury risk.
Different chronic illnesses lead to inactivity, pain, lost function, depression, and the necessity to take multiple medications. Older adults who are diagnosed with certain cognitive deficits concern such as dementia have a greater risk of delirium with trauma. This can lead to long term hospitalization and even death risk.
Fluid Changes- With aging older people ability to adjust with fluid changes reduces that derives from resuscitation or withstand surgery for the treatment of traumatic injuries like a bone fracture. Also, senior people are left with very less amount of physiological reserve that can easily handle a traumatic incident such as injuries caused by falls or from a vehicle accident. Hence, these conditions make aging people more vulnerable to injury.
Normal Aging- The very common and understandable reason behind more injuries risk in aging people is the normal aging process that deteriorates the functionality of all sense organs with each passing year. Several things happen as a natural or normal part of your life during the aging process that increases the risk or incidents of falls and injuries thereon.
Bones and cognitive ability get weaken with the time that makes it simply harder to adapt changes in posture quickly. Also blood pressure level drops when an elderly person stands up fast. Falls and injuries also happen in older adults because they have less muscle mass as well as slower reflexes.
Motor Vehicles Accident- Out of the two most common causes of injures in aging people this is the second leading cause. Often elderly people get an easy victim of motor vehicle accidents. The injuries caused by a vehicle accident may occur to an old age person as a pedestrian, driver, or as a passenger.
Tips to Prevent Injuries while Aging
In order to ensure a very comfortable and successful aging process, it is vital that you take proactive steps in order to prevent injuries to keep yourself safe and protected in your old age. Do take care of below mentioned physical factors to prevent your injuries risk during aging.
Get your Vision Checked Regularly
Weak or poor vision is one of the common symptoms or aging-related physical concerns that elderly people face. Also, it is the most common factor that increases the risk of injury. So to prevent your falls or accident risk during your old age make sure that get your vision checked regularly at least twice in a year from a specialist doctor.
Due to changes in eyesight during the aging process, it becomes difficult for older people to see things properly and clearly. Some common vision-related concerns that older people faces include lost or reduced sense of depth perception, weak night vision, and sensitivity to glare.
If you are facing any of these vision-related concerns then without making further delay take necessary medical treatment and use devices that can reduce your risk of falls and injuries. In case you are diagnosed with eye health concerns that are primarily associated with aging such as glaucoma and cataracts then take necessary treatment otherwise in its developed phase these conditions can even lead to total blindness. Get checked your glasses on a fixed interval to evaluate their effectiveness and make a new one if you require it.
Get Checked your Hearing Ability Regularly
Just like vision hearing ability also diminishes with aging that increases the risk of injuries of elderly people. As a result of hearing loss older adults face immense difficulty in identifying dangers especially while walking on a roadside. Like elderly people face difficulty in listening to cars honking, sirens, and smoke alarms which increases the risk of motor vehicles accident the second big cause of injuries while aging.
So to prevent the risk of any kind of traumatic event it is essential for older people to get checked their hearing ability from a health specialist at least once or twice times in a year as they get older. Also, use hearing aids if you need them especially while going outside to prevent your risk of falls and accidents.
Get Check Your Mental Health
Just like your physical body, even your mental health deteriorates with aging. So like your other organs, it is vital that you do get checked your mental health if you find you are facing difficulty remembering even important things of your life necessary for survival. In the lack of strong mental health and its functionality, you can’t expect to react instantly after seeing any danger and this delay in prompt reaction make you more vulnerable to face an injury either from a fall or through a motor vehicle accident.
You can improve your brain health and cognitive ability even in your older age by incorporating different natural and effective means to boost the growth of new brain cells in the older age such as playing puzzles or other brain game, keeping your mind engaged in productive things instead of keeping it engaged in stress and worries, spend some time in the environment, find purpose in your life, etc.
With age, the ability of older adults to understand and correlate with the surrounding environment deteriorates which is vital for ensuring personal safety. Dementia is a very common mental health problem that occurs in aged people leading to their ability to remember even the most essential things of life hampers.
So their risk of falling and injuries increases to a great extent. In such cases, it is vital that dementia affected aged persons get enough level support from family members and caregivers which can prevent their risk of accidents. Dementia affected aged patient should either live in a safe home environment or in a modernized dementia care facilities that are specially designed to offer safety and freedom to older adults.
Be Aware of Your Medications Side Effects
With aging, several health concerns including minor to chronic ones appear in the life of elderly people which increases their dependency on several medications. Though these medications help in coping up with the concerned health issues but these are often accompanied by side effects risks like drowsiness, dizziness, muscle relaxation, and blurred vision which increases their risk of falls and motor vehicle accidents.
So, to avoid and prevent the risk of injuries while aging it is vital to consult with your doctor particularly about the expected side effects that may or may not happen. In this way, you can remain alert and sit or lie down in a safe place after taking these medications that will protect you from the injuries risk. Also, you can ask your doctor to change your medications if its side effects are very frequent or get worst with time. For senior adults, it is vital to stay aware of their condition and stay awake with active senses.
The senior adults should remain aware of non-prescription or over-the-counter medications side effects such as pain killers as these have sleeping aids that will make you fall by misbalancing you if you do not sit or lie down on a safe place. In older adult insomnia related concerns are very common which increases their dependency on sleeping pills. However, in such cases, it’s better to consult with the doctor to get a safe alternative option.
Stays Physically Active
With age the body of elderly people gets lethargic and that is also because of inactiveness or sedentary lifestyle that they start living with time. This kind of inactiveness increases the risk of injuries with aging. However, it can get rid of by following a good exercise routine.
There are some exercises that are particularly safe for seniors including the frail elderly. It helps them in improving their body balance, muscle tone, and gait. Regular exercise practices help in strengthening muscles that prevent the risk of falls and injury risk.
Also, it increases the flexibility of ligaments, tendons, and joints. Osteoporosis which is the most common chronic joint health concern especially in aging people can be prevented by practicing mild weight-bearing exercises such as walking and climbing stairs.
Avoid Driving Hazard
Motor vehicles accident which is the second leading cause of injuries in aging people can be avoided by strictly following some safety measures while driving a car or while walking on the roadside. Seat belts must be worn whether you are driving the car by own self or sitting as a passenger to avoid the risk of trauma. Also, seniors should be refrained from driving if they are drunk or have taken psychoactive drugs.
The driving ability of the elderly people must be investigated with extra questions like they must be asked about their physical and mental health condition, their ability to coordination, visual power, significant impairment of neck or trunk movement must be evaluated before issuing them a driving license or renewing the old driving license. This is highly important for the life safety of not only the elderly drivers but also the passengers in the vehicles.
Preventing Home Hazards
Elderly people often get injuries inside the home which can be prevented with some proactive measures. Older adults who are the patient of dementia for them the risk of getting an injury remains high compare to other senior adults. For them, the usage of gas and electrical applications is very risky which can be avoided by letting them available automatic shut off features appliances.
Also, a ringing alarm bell while using an electrical device can prevent their risk of injuries. Older people who are the patient of peripheral neuropathy or contain the risk of burns from excessively hot water is preventable by setting the hot water heater temperature at < 49-degree celsius. Elderly people who are living alone, the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors must be installed in their homes to prevent the risk of fire.
There must be a good lighting system so that they won’t fall down in the lack of sufficient light. There must be two rails in every stair for ensuring the security of the older person as the risk of trembling or falling from stairs remains quite high in aging people due to their lack of body balance.
In bathrooms to avoid the risk of slippery or falling down it is vital to install the grab bars near the toilets and in the shower or tub. Older people should be allowed to stay in the room that is closest to the bathroom area. Their safety level can be enhanced by providing them a shower chair or a hand-held shower inside the bathroom.
Other than above mentioned most vital tips to prevent injuries while aging some other important things too must be considered and managed on time before it gets a reason for your or your loved ones falls and injures. Lack of proper sleep, lack of nutritious foods that support bones’ health, and above all lack of compassion and care from the loved ones are some factors that must not be ignored to ensure healthy and successful aging without any fear of injuries or trauma.
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