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Discussing Falls with Older Parents

June 25, 2012

Adult children may find it difficult to discuss falls and declining mobility with their parents. Their parents, in response, might become angry and defensive. They may even deny that falling is a matter of any concern at all.

Regardless of these possible obstacles, "the talk" should happen.1It is a discussion families need to have if they are to ensure physical safety and quality of life for their loved ones.

Provided below are a few suggestions to help get the conversation going and to assist caregivers in preparing for the challenges to come.

Talk to your loved one in a relaxed settingTalk in a Relaxed Setting

A discussion about diminished mobility and the possible loss of independence can be upsetting. Establishing the right setting, and the right time to initiate this talk, will help everyone to feel relaxed and more likely to engage openly.

  • Schedule "the talk" when it's convenient for all family members
  • Get together where it's comfortable, quiet and soothing
  • Maintain a level tone of voice and always listen to others
  • Use humor to ease tensions 
  • Don't force the situation. Solutions may not be immediate. Relax and try again later

Talk Facts: Fall Risks and Fall Prevention

A parent who has fallen, is at risk for falls, or one who is afraid of falling, may be reluctant to accept the need for help. Family caregivers can make a solid case for fall prevention measures by presenting their parents with statistics and hard facts.2

  • The chances of falling and of being seriously injured in a fall increase with age
  • Among older adults - those 65 or older - falls are the most common cause of hospital admissions for trauma, and the leading cause of injury and death
  • 20 - 30% of older people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries (hip fractures, or head traumas) that make it hard to get around or live independently, and increase the risk of early death
  • Older adults can remain independent by preventing falls and reducing the risk of injury

Once the facts are laid out, adult children can ask their parents to offer suggestions for improving their safety.

Many disability and aging-in-place experts recommend home modifications for accessibility and fall prevention. Depending on the particular circumstances, a power wheelchair, mobility scooter, personal lift and/or an emergency response system might prove equally effective.

Whatever the decision, there are several safety options for family caregivers to explore. Having "the talk" is just one step of many towards empowering loved ones to live independently and safer at home.

 

1For more on talking about senior safety, care and mobility issues, see:
Senior Care: When to Have the Talk
Talk Early - Talk Often- Talk to Elderly Parents

2For additional, supportive data on elderly fall risks and fall prevention; see Center for Disease Control and Prevention

This article is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to replace professional medical advice.

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