Falling over is not something that many people in their youth or middle age tend to worry too much about, but for the elderly it can be a devastating, life-changing event.
As we age we tend to find ourselves becoming more fragile. Bones become brittle (especially through the effects of diseases like osteoporosis), bruises heal more slowly and injuries can leave lasting aches and pains. Even the act of getting up from a fall can be a traumatic.
It’s axiomatic therefore, that taking steps to avoid having a fall in the first place is the most sensible thing to do. The good news is that there are plenty of measures that can be put in place, whether by physically counteracting aging or by careful planning.
Tip 1: Take Action
The aging process typically involves a number of physical changes. A greater propensity to put on weight, hair loss, wrinkles and unreliable eyesight. Whilst these are mostly unavoidable, they are usually remedial to a greater or lesser degree, either through a different hair cut, avoiding harsh weather or getting the right prescription for your glasses.
Unfortunately many people also get into the habit of increasing inactivity.
There’s no need for this to be the case for the elderly, with there being no “cut off” age where stopping all exercise is advisable. Indeed, whether it through wanting to keep the garden in trim or, like this hundred year old man, taking pleasure from the act of running, the benefits of purposefully striving towards a goal can hardly be understated. Admittedly this is an extreme example, of course, but by no means an isolated one.
Scientists have published thousands of studies demonstrating that moderate exercise is almost panacea-like in its ability to prevent ill health and alleviate symptoms and from walking round the park to hitting the gym, there are options available for people in all states of health.
Tip 2: Don’t Be Afraid To Use Technology
Contrary to tip one, and not necessarily diametrically opposed, the elderly should also consider integrating more technology into their living environment, in order to minimise risk and help maintain their independence.
This can come in many forms, from carrying a panic alarm on their person to purchasing a mobility scooter.
Stairs are a prime example of a common element in the home that can become a major challenge as we grow older. They present a danger both in and of themselves, but also heighten the danger that a stroke or temporary attack of dizziness poses.
One way of addressing this is to move into a bungalow, though this is understandably not a popular choice. Alternatively, consider renting or purchasing a stairlift. Companies can install them on straight or curved stairs and adapt them any number of ways to ensure that they’re appropriate for the individual. For a little expenditure, a source of serious risk and worry can be rendered harmless.
Tip 3: Accident-Proof Your Home
When you’re young and apparently bullet-proof, it’s easy to be cavalier about your living environment. To ignore sharp protruding objects, to fumble around in the dark looking for something, to negotiate vertiginous stairs. You don’t give it a second thought.
If you’re concerned about falling, you need to strip away the familiar arrangements of home and look at every aspect of your home rationally, open to the need for modifying as much or as little as necessary.
Ruthlessly reposition furniture, dispense with heavy objects and put grab rails and non-slip mats in place. Make sure that carpets are flat and rooms well-lit. Doing so takes only a little effort and will reduce the risks significantly.
What should be abundantly clear, then, is that there is nothing inevitable about suffering a fall as you grow older. By taking steps now, you can go a long way to enjoying a happy, comfortable old age.
Guest post by Acorn Stairlifts, experts in building and installing stairlifts. Our stairlifts are designed, case by case, to match the needs of the individual.