Falls are not just a part of “getting old.” In fact, there are a variety of causes that can happen to anyone, at any age. And that means that oftentimes there are things you can do to prevent falls – including using a power wheelchair. Read on to find out common causes of falls in seniors and how to prevent them.
What Causes Falls in Seniors
You could have poor depth perception that makes you misjudge your next step, or perhaps your eyes may not adjust as quickly in the dark or sudden light. Blurry vision may mean that something in your path doesn't have a clear outline for you to avoid, and if you are farsighted or nearsighted you may incorrectly estimate where an object lies.
Tired muscles lead to tired limbs, which means you may have diminished energy and your legs may become weak and give out as you are walking. Your body may tire after supporting itself for longer periods of time.
There are many reasons for poor balance, including dehydration, medical conditions such as vertigo, muscle weakness, improper shoes, lack of exercise and more. When your body feels a little off kilter, it's harder to walk and falls become more possible.
High heels, sandals and shoes without any grip on the soles can contribute to falls even if someone has full regular mobility. In addition, shoes that don't fit properly can cause blisters – which tend to make people walk differently to avoid irritation.
Plenty of medications for ailments have side effects that include dizziness or confusion, which can lead to falls. The interactions between medications that seem fine on their own could cause dizziness as well.
If you can't rightly feel where your foot is landing, you may lose your footing and fall. Foot pain and numbness can also be a sign of an underlying health issue that needs to be addressed.
Have you ever felt dizzy when getting up too quickly? It's when your blood pressure drops too low when you stand. Sometimes, that can be caused by dehydration (or several other medical factors, including anemia, heart conditions or medications).
Feeling like you are on a rocking boat and feeling seasick, even when you're on dry land? That's vertigo. Sometimes it is caused by moving your head too quickly, and sometimes it is a more frequent occurrence, but it all stems from your ears.
- Medical Conditions (Like Diabetes and Parkinson's)
Sometimes falls in seniors are a sign of an underlying medical issue, like Parkinson's – which causes muscles to not respond as they normally would – or diabetes, which can cause drops or spikes in blood sugar or even eye problems that contribute to falls.
A corner of a rug that seems to be bending upwards, a coffee table sticking out into a pathway, a miscellaneous object lying on the floor: All these seemingly innocuous things can be potential home hazards that can lead to a fall. Looking away for a split second can mean you don't notice something right in front of you, or you may misjudge its nearness.
What You Can Do to Prevent Falls
- Have regular doctor visits. Be sure to tell your doctor every little symptom you have, and discuss all the medications you are taking to determine potential problems. Ask about a mobility device such as a Hoveround® power wheelchair.
- Get your vision checked regularly. At least annually, or every six months – or sooner if you notice vision changes. Include screenings for glaucoma and cataracts, and talk to your eye doctor about your night vision – even when you're not driving.
- Talk to your pharmacist. Be sure to know all the potential side effects of any medications you are taking, including any interactions with other medications or even food and beverages.
- Use a power wheelchair. When aging in place, a Hoveround® power wheelchair helps you to retain your mobility while aiding in fall prevention – particularly when medical conditions, muscle weakness and poor balance make walking difficult. Using an power chair eliminates many potential fall risks in the home as well.
- Declutter your home. Imagine you are walking through your home with your eyes closed. Can you make it from one side of the room to the other without tripping over rug corners, stacks of boxes, furniture that juts out too much, or random items lying on the floor? Be sure to put everything back in its proper place after use so it doesn't accidentally cause a fall.
- Exercise. Even if you have limited mobility and use a power chair, you can still do exercise that are designed not to get your heart rate pumping and burn calories, but to strengthen your core. By strengthening your core, your sense of balance is better and your body is stronger – which allows you to hold yourself up better, have higher endurance, see better flexibility and prevent falls.
- Wear proper shoes. Always make sure your shoes are the correct size for your feet, have rubber non-slip soles and are not uncomfortable.
- Drink enough water. Actually, drinking plenty of fluids is good for your overall health – not only for preventing falls. One good tip to follow to is to drink enough water so that your urine in pale yellow or clear (unless your medications cause discoloration).
Prevent Falls with Hoveround®!
Using a power wheelchair is a great way to prevent falls in seniors, especially when aging in place. A Hoveround® power wheelchair is designed to maneuver down hallways and around corners easily, which helps you maintain your mobility safely. Call Hoveround® today at (800) 542-7236 to regain your independence!