Seniors are often prone to falling, due to obstacles that cause them to trip, balancing issues (dizziness), muscle spasms, poor vision or fainting spells. Most senior falling accidents occur in the bathroom and most serious injuries are hip fractures.
"Hip fractures cause the greatest health problems and the greatest number of deaths. Nearly a quarter of a million hip fractures occur each year among people older than 50 years in the US."1 This information may be somewhat unsettling, especially for those who are not old enough to retire and perceive themselves as being in "good shape." So what can we do to lower our risk of falling or injury?
Here are some recommendations:
1. Be careful and don't take unnecessary risks
As we mature in age, we tend to not lift our feet as high as we used to when walking. Not necessarily shuffling, but you know what I mean. Remove tripping hazards when you see them. My wife tripped on a garden hose whle carrying a glass flower vase. She fell and cut her hand when the vase broke. The garden hose was definitely a trip hazard. Here are some of the "killer" tripping or accident causing hazards:
- Loose rugs, steps and pets
- Objects left lying on the floor or steps
- Unstable furniture, and/or furniture risers
Do not walk anywhere in the dark without proper lighting, especially if you are not using your corrected vision. Night lights are inexpensive and effective so you can see what is in front of you. You can also hang a flashlight by the door for going outside in the dark.
2. Get Assistance or support when you need it
- If you are using a ladder, indoors or outdoors, get someone to hold it while you clime or visa versa. Always follow the manufacturers instructions.
- If you are somewhat unstable when walking, use a cane. Or use a walker if it is helpful and prudent. It is better to be safe than sorry .... use walking aids if you need them.
3. Recovery from hip surgery or hip ailments
Recovering from surgery is a long, painful process taking from several months to to years. Mobility while convalescing is essential.
Garn is a physical therapist and has had several patients with hip replacements. I asked him how important it is for someone to be able to sit and stand easily. He said "with many lower body disabilities, including hip surgery, it is very important that the patient does not just sit or lie down all the time. They need to get up and move around to help in the healing process." Medical doctors also recommend moving and walking after surgery.
Being able to stand up and sit down easily is important for not only people with varying disabilities but all senior citizens. When pain in sitting and standing is minimized, people are more likely to move about more often.
Furniture risers are a simple way for many to make the recovery process easier and less painful to be mobile, especially if your favorite chair or sofa is lower than it should be, causing difficulty in standing.
Consider simple furniture risers that raise the furniture 2" to 6". In many cases these devices make it easier to stand and sit, resulting in less pain, more mobility and beneficial exercise for the user. A word of caution: some furniture risers are tricky to install and it usually takes at least two people, one or two to lift the furniture and one person to hold the riser and guide the furniture as it is lowered into place. You should also be aware of potential stability issues during and after installation.
Be careful and slow down, we're not as spry as we used to be. Try furniture risers if you have any difficulty standing up.