You might not think much about sustaining brain injuries, but they certainly do happen often enough, and when they do, the results can be bad, terrible, or even catastrophic. Since March 2023 is Brain Injury Awareness Month, now is a great time to consider how to reduce the possibility of taking a fall that might cause a significant brain injury. Seniors in Oxford and elsewhere are especially prone to falls, and they will generally sustain more injuries from those falls as well. Being less athletic and able to protect themselves in a fall, plus having bones that are naturally more brittle, make seniors more vulnerable to fall injuries than other groups of people. One aspect of senior home care involves making the home setting safer against the potential for slips, falls, and possible brain injuries that may result.
The role of balance in falls
There are quite a few things that can affect your balance, and when any of these impact you, you may not be able to control your body’s positioning. For example, medications can sometimes actually interfere with your sense of balance. Low blood pressure medications can cause a person to feel dizzy, and if you notice this when taking that type of medicine, alert your doctor so an alternative can be recommended. There are also a number of balance disorders that can affect you, and these can throw off your natural sense of good balance. Generally, these will originate from problems in the inner ear, because that’s where your sense of balance is situated. Some of the most common balance disorders are the following:
- Labyrinthitis – an infection or inflammation causing dizziness and disorientation
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo – this condition causes you to have a brief feeling of vertigo whenever you move your head. It can happen simply by looking up, or by rolling over in bed.
- Vertigo – this condition creates the sensation that everything around you is spinning, which makes it extremely disorienting.
- Meniere’s Disease – this disorder is one of the primary causes of vertigo, often accompanied by intermittent hearing loss, which is sensed as a ringing sound in your ears or an unusual feeling of fullness.
Seniors are at greater risk for falls
Older adults will generally have a fall because they have tripped on something around the home, and this can be avoided by making sure that miscellaneous objects are tucked away safely out of the traffic pattern. Falls are by far the most common source of injury visits to emergency rooms around the country, and this is especially true in the case of older adults. Falls will cause more fractures, more wounds, and more brain injuries than any other single cause. Falls are also the primary cause of injury-related deaths in individuals aged 65 and older. From these facts, it should be apparent that falls are potentially the most dangerous source of all kinds of injuries, especially in seniors. That’s why all steps possible should be taken to limit the possibility of having an older individual trip and fall on something around the home.
Reducing the risk of falls at home
Everyone is at an increased risk of falling as they age, mostly because of changes in balance and vision, and due to some physical and medical conditions. Most people will generally lose bone density as well during the aging process, so there’s a much greater risk of breaking bones during a fall. Some steps should be taken to lower the risk of falls around the home, including:
- have hearing and vision checked on a regular basis
- understand the side effects of any medications you’re taking, because some can result in the loss of coordination and balance
- limit the amount of alcohol that is consumed on a regular basis
- wear low-heel shoes that have rubber soles and which fit properly, so your feet are well supported. You should avoid wearing loose-fitting slippers because they promote the possibility of tripping and falling
- be extra careful on sidewalks that are either wet, snowy, or icy
- exercise regularly so that you can maintain flexibility and keep your bones as strong as possible.
Preventing falls around the house
It will definitely be worth your while to take some extra steps to prevent the risk of falling as you get older. If you’re the caretaker for a senior living in your household, you should take some of these same steps, so as to prevent the possibility of a severe injury from a fall. Here are some of the best preventive measures you can take around the home to avoid potentially catastrophic falls:
- make sure lighting is adequate in the home
- use non-slip mats in showers and bathtubs
- have handlebars installed next to bathtubs, toilets, and showers
- use lighting and handrails on all staircases in the home
- make sure electrical cords are stowed away securely, and not on the floor in heavy traffic areas
- minimize clutter around the household, especially in walking areas
- maintain a comfortable temperature in your home, so that any seniors don’t get dizzy from extreme heat or cold
- make sure that items you use frequently are within easy reach, so it won’t be necessary to use a step stool to reach them.
Taking these few simple steps can dramatically reduce the likelihood of a dangerous slip and fall for seniors.