The statistics pertaining to senior falls are troublesome. Falls are classified as the leading cause of injury in seniors, and bring about hundreds of thousands of hip fractures annually, in addition to the countless other injuries experienced. As prevalent as falls in the elderly are, the risk is more than doubled for all those with osteoarthritis, according to research by the CDC.
Why Does Osteoarthritis Increase the Risk of Falls in the Elderly So Drastically?
There are numerous contributing factors:
- Pain. The joint pain brought on by osteoarthritis results in as much as an 85% higher possibility of falling, based on the number of painful joints a senior has and which joints are afflicted. The pain will naturally cause older adults to avoid utilizing the joints generating pain, leading to unsteadiness and muscle weakness.
- Pain medications. While pain itself is enough to put older adults at a greater risk of falling, the very prescriptions intended to help can lead to harm as well. Prescription pain meds, specifically narcotics, cause dizziness and drowsiness – both key reasons behind falls.
- Functioning difficulties. Joint stiffness and the mobility challenges that it may cause can alter how an older adult moves and walks. Each step taken normally places 80% of our body weight onto one limb; however, seniors with arthritis pain will discover methods to compensate for the pain, which can place them off balance.
Tips for Preventing Falls
Taking steps to reduce the risk of falls in the elderly with osteoarthritis is a must. There are two important components to fall prevention:
- Increase physical activity. Research has revealed that improving flexibility and building muscle strength and balance will decrease the possibility that an older adult with arthritis will experience a fall. Speak with a doctor before trying these low-impact exercises:
- Tai chi
- Strength training
- Assess the home environment. A walk-through of the home often helps identify any potential hazards and modifications needed to boost safety. For example, remove any clutter/obstacles/cords blocking walking paths, add grab bars in the bathroom, make sure sturdy handrails are in place alongside stairs, and install additional lighting.
Let Morning Glory Home Care, the award-winning providers of home health services in Belleville, Illinois and nearby areas, help even lower fall risk for an older adult you love. We are on hand to perform a comprehensive evaluation of the house and then provide further strategies to improve safety. We are also able to assist with:
- Medication reminders
- Transportation to medical appointments, exercise classes, and anywhere else an older adult would like to go
- Housekeeping and meal preparation
- Safe walking and transfers
- Picking up prescriptions and groceries and running any other errands requested
- Companionship to motivate older adults to stay active while remaining safe
- And so much more