The statistics related to senior falls are surprising. Falls are the primary source of injury in older adults, and bring about hundreds of thousands of hip fractures annually, along with numerous other injuries experienced. As prevalent as falls in seniors are, the risk is more than doubled for individuals with osteoarthritis, according to research by the Centers for Disease Control.
Why Does Osteoarthritis Raise Fall Risk So Significantly?
There are a number of contributing factors:
- Pain. Elderly joint pain caused by arthritis leads to as much as an 85% higher chance of falling, based on how many painful joints an older adult has and which joints are impacted. The pain will naturally cause older adults to avoid using the joints causing pain, leading to unsteadiness and muscle weakness.
- Pain medications. While pain itself is enough to put seniors at a greater danger of falling, the very medications meant to help can cause harm as well. Prescription pain meds, primarily narcotics, cause drowsiness and dizziness – both key reasons for falls.
- Functioning difficulties. Joint stiffness and the mobility challenges can alter how a person moves and walks. Each step taken normally places 80% of our body weight onto one limb, however, seniors with arthritis pain will find different ways to compensate for the discomfort it may cause, which could place them off balance.
How to Avoid Falls
Taking steps to prevent falls is essential for seniors with osteoarthritis. There are two essential components to fall prevention:
- Increase physical activity. Research shows that improving flexibility and building muscle strength and balance will lower the chance that a senior with arthritis will experience a fall. Talk with a physician first, and then try these low-impact exercises:
- Tai chi
- Strength training
- Assess the home environment. A walk-through of the home will help identify any potential hazards and adjustments needed to increase safety. For example, remove clutter/cords/obstacles blocking walking paths, add grab bars in the bathroom, make sure sturdy handrails are in place alongside stairs, and install additional lighting.
Let Live Free Home Health Care, providers of award-winning home care services in Bristol and the surrounding area, help minimize fall risk for an older adult you love. We’re on hand to perform a thorough assessment of the home and to offer further tips to maximize safety. We can also 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 various other errands requested
- Companionship to motivate seniors to remain active while remaining safe
- And much more
Reach out to us online or give us a call us at 603-217-0149 to arrange for an in-home consultation and fall risk assessment, and to find out about our compassionate home care services in Bristol, New Hampshire and the surrounding communities.