The older your parents get, the higher the chances are of them encountering a perilous fall. Hitting hard surfaces can cause severe physical pain for the elderly, even if it’s not that hard, varying from a fractured arm to a displaced hip. Many who have gone through such an experience may have acquired some knowledge of fall prevention, but a surprising number of people still do not realize the benefits of asking medical professionals the right questions.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls occur for one in three adults age 65 years or older each year. Additionally, the possibility of experiencing a serious injury from a fall increases dramatically by the time your parents reach the age of 85.
There are many ways to prevent falls for an elderly loved one, starting with friendly living conditions that minimize fall hazards, while allowing freedom of mobility and appropriate exercise. Laurie Udesky, senior editor of Caring.com, suggests discussing the following topics with your doctor to help identify how susceptible your parent is to falling and the most effective ways to go about preventing an injury.
• Using the right cane or walker. Other medical professionals such as physical therapists can help assess the best device for an elder to use for maximum mobility without the device becoming a hazard.
• Gait and balance tests. A doctor can have an elder run through a series of balancing and strength movements to help pinpoint weakness in specific areas, or reveal dizziness.
• Exercise. There are many new exercise trends such as yoga that offer many physical benefits without the danger of lifting weights or over exertion. Ask your doctor what routines are best for strength and health once a gait test has been completed.
• Medication. It is possible that your elder is taking medications that heighten a sense of dizziness or imbalance. Blood pressure medication is one that has been known to throw off a person's balance. Identifying which meds are causing these effects can help you understand why an elder may be falling often.
In short, a doctor's advice can mean a better lifestyle for your elder when the right questions are asked.