Following these four tips can help prevent painful falls
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By Julie Ann Anderson  July 19, 2013 12:00 am

As people age, their bones became more prone to fracture. In addition, bone damage takes longer to heal in elderly individuals.  Clearly, preventing falls is one way of helping older individuals to avoid broken bones, bruises and other injuries.

Here are four tips to help keep your aging parents and other loved ones safe and less likely to slip, trip, or fall:

Keep strong

Aging parents and spouses need to stay as healthy as possible, and that includes keeping muscles strong. 

If the person over whom you are watching does not already have a regular exercise routine, encourage him or her to start one. 

Of course, check with your loved one’s doctor before starting any exercises to determine what is appropriate. Concentrate on exercises focusing on balance and coordination because these are much more important than those that turn your aging parents into bodybuilders. There are great video games such as the Wii that offer strengthening balance games that are fun and effective.

 Check those meds

Some medications affect balance or may cause drowsiness, which can in turn increase the chances of a fall. This may even happen with a medicine that a person has been taking for years. 

As a body ages, it changes, and that can alter the effect a medicine has on a person. Take time to talk with your loved one’s doctor about the medications he or she is taking and the effects they might have.

 Be visionary

Good vision is important in preventing falls. Make sure your loved one has his or her eyes checked annually, not only for conditions such as macular degeneration or glaucoma, but also for changes that may indicate the need for a new prescription.

Fall-proof your home

Everyone needs a safe home that is as fall-proof as it can be.

Here are a few ways that you can fall-proof your home:

• Keep the stairs clear of obstacles.

• Add handrails to staircases that don’t have them and make sure that stairs are appropriately lighted.

• Secure any throw rugs so they don’t slip, slide or roll up; if they can’t be secured, remove them.

• Make sure the bathtub or shower has non-slip rubber mats.

• Use nightlights so you can see during middle-of-the-night visits to the bathroom.

• Don’t go barefoot around the house. Wearing non-skid shoes is a much better idea.

Following the tips above can go a long way toward keeping aging parents and others from experiencing falls. There’s an added bonus as well: they can help prevent falls among all members of the family, no matter the age. 

It’s a win-win situation.

Julie Ann Anderson is the owner of Home Instead Senior care office in Rohnert Park; mother of two and passionate about healthy living at all ages. Having cared for her parents, she understands your struggles and aims, through her website, www.homeinstead.com/sonoma to educate and encourage seniors and caregivers. Have a caregiving or aging concern? She’d love to hear from you at 586-1516 anytime.

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